Remote controlled tugs are used to move F-15 EaglesThrough hangars and around the flight line Robins Air Force Base.
Maintenance workers for F-15 aircraft with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC) have 10 TowFLEXX 5.4 (TF-5), low profile aircraft tugs to move the aircraft around hangars where traditional tugs can’t maneuver.
Carl Motter Jr. (402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group) TowFLEXX Program manager said they were researching new technology to turn an F-15 aircraft within a radius of 65 feet in the high bay area of Building 12.
“The conventional tug-and-tow bar configuration would not clear tight constraints inside of this building for turning and positioning aircraft,” he said. “With the TF-5, there is greater mobility and less repositioning involved to place an aircraft in a work stand, and it can handle any aircraft up to 120,000 pounds.”
Motter stated that the TF- 5 doesn’t require fuel.
“It is powered by four 12-volt direct current, 200 AMP/hour batteries,” he said. “It meets the new regulations for all green procurement for the Department of Defense and the WR-ALC.”
Motter stated that safety is the most important aspect of using the TF-5.
“The TF-5 operator uses a remote control belly pack to control the tug while attaching, moving and releasing any aircraft with 360 degrees of walking around capability,” he said. “No one has to sit under the aircraft while positioning or moving the aircraft.
Also, there are no harmful exhaust fumes or loud engine noises while maneuvering an aircraft through a hangar,” he continued.
The TF-5 can also be used to save money.
“Labor cost is reduced by $240 an hour per aircraft that needs to be positioned into the next workstation,” he said. “Its use increases production with reduced labor effort.”
Motter stated that the traditional tug will still be used around the WR–ALC.
“The TF-5 will be used to move F-15s and other aircraft under 120,000 pounds,” he said. “For long distances, a conventional tug-and-tow bar will be used.”
Motter stated that personnel on F-15 flights will have the opportunity to learn how to properly use the TF-5 and set them up on an F-15 before they are used.
“The 402nd AMXG worked with the Robins Air Force Base training group to develop courses for members in the F-15 squadrons,” he said. “Any mechanic that goes through the WR-ALC training course and acquires a certificate of completion after passing the course will be capable of operating the TF-5.”
The TF-5’s small size and capabilities allows the tug to be an easy item to deploy.
“The TF-5 can be loaded into any cargo plane and transported anywhere in the world where tugs and tow bars have not been shipped,” he said. “This will allow the advance-deployment personnel to move aircraft like the A-10 (Thunderbolt II), F-16 (Fighting Falcon), F-22 (Raptor), F-35 (Lightning II) aircraft into shelters for safety and protection with the ability to use the space more efficiently.”
Motter stated that there are many possibilities for the equipment to be used on all types of aircraft at Robins AFB as well as throughout the military.
“As workload demands increase and with the need to utilize existing hangar space, new technology will be required to maintain this country’s assets around the world,” he said.