The Navy recently wrapped up a “first-of-its-kind” repair of a damaged F/A-18E Super Hornet jet engine aboard the deployed aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush.
In addition to getting the jet back into operations faster, officials hope it can serve as a proof-of-concept that such repairs can be done at sea in a deployed environment.
Bush and its carrier strike group have been deployed to the waters of U.S. European Command since August 2022.
The Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 136, sustained damage to its starboard engine after an in-flight fire on Aug. 31, 2022, according to the Navy.
Normally, heat and fire damage to the “68R door skin, vent screen, formers, S11 skin, starboard engine bay and all accompanying hardware” would require the bird to be craned off the ship and taken to an ashore location for repairs, the Navy said in a press release.
But after an engineering investigation, officials decided to attempt a repair aboard the carrier.
“Since this was the first-ever at-sea replacement of a 68R Door and S-11 Skin, considerable time was required to plan and approve the repair,” Lt. Cmdr. Russell Huff, Carrier Air Wing 7′s maintenance officer, said in the release. “Once the engineers had believed this repair could be accomplished at sea, or at least that a repair could be attempted, things went very smoothly.”
After consulting with multiple fleet readiness centers and other commands, arrangements were made to fly technical experts, parts and tools to the carrier.
The jet’s repair efforts were completed on Jan. 9 after 33 days of work.
The “resounding success” of this “significant at-sea repair” can serve as a springboard to greater repair capability at sea, the air wing’s commander, Capt. Thomas Bodine, said in the release.
“Our ability to maintain and repair our aircraft while underway is a critical warfighting competency,” he said.
Correction: an earlier version of this article misstated the commands helping with the jet repair work. Multiple fleet readiness centers assisted in the effort.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.