Remote controlled tugs are used to move F-15 Eagles around the flight line and through the hangars to Robins Air Force Base.
F-15 aircraft maintenance workers with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC) have 10 TowFLEXX 5.4 (TF-5), low profile aircraft tugs for moving the aircraft around hangars where traditional tugs cannot maneuver.
Carl Motter Jr., TowFLEXX program manager for the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group (AMXG), said they were looking for new technology that could spin an F-15 aircraft in a 65-foot circle inside the high rise building 125.
âThe conventional tow bar and tow bar configuration would not remove the strict constraints inside this building for turning and positioning planes,â he said. âWith the TF-5, there is greater mobility and less repositioning to place an aircraft in a workstation, and it can handle any aircraft up to 120,000 pounds. “
Motter said the TF-5 does not require fuel.
âIt is powered by four 12 volt, 200 ampere / hour direct current batteries,â he said. âIt meets the new regulations for all green procurement from the MoD and WR-ALC. “
Motter said safety comes first when using the TF-5.
âThe operator of the TF-5 uses a remote controlled belly bag to control the tug while attaching, moving and dropping any aircraft with 360 degree walk capability,â he said. âNo one has to sit under the plane to position or move the plane.
In addition, there are no harmful exhaust gases or loud engine noises when maneuvering an aircraft in a hangar, âhe continued.
In addition, there are cost savings when using the TF-5.
âThe cost of labor is reduced by $ 240 per hour per plane that must be placed in the next workstation,â he said. âIts use increases production with reduced labor effort. “
Motter said around the WR-ALC the traditional tug will still be in use.
“The TF-5 will be used to move F-15s and other planes under 120,000 pounds,” he said. âFor long distances, a conventional tow bar will be used. “
Personnel on F-15 flights will have the opportunity to learn how to use and properly install the TF-5 on an F-15 before using it, Motter said.
âThe 402nd AMXG worked with the Robins Air Force Base Training Group to develop courses for members of the F-15 squadrons,â he said. âAny mechanic who takes the WR-ALC training course and acquires a certificate of completion after successfully completing the course will be able to use the TF-5. “
The TF-5’s small size and capabilities allow the tug to be an easy-to-deploy item.
âThe TF-5 can be loaded onto any cargo plane and transported anywhere in the world where tugs and tow bars have not been shipped,â he said. “This will allow forward deployed personnel to move aircraft like the A-10 (Thunder II), F 16 (Fighting falcon), F-22 (Raptor), F-35 (Lightning II) in shelters for added safety and protection with the ability to use space more efficiently.
Motter said the possibilities are endless for any aircraft that this equipment can be used on at Robins AFB and across the military.
âAs the workload increases and with the need to use the existing hangar space, new technologies will be needed to maintain this country’s assets around the world,â he said.