Military Review

Save and Restore: 309th United States Air Force Maintenance and Repair Group


B-36 bombers at the Davis-Monten base, 1958. In the future they will be disassembled as unnecessary

A few days ago, the United States Air Force announced the return to service of the B-52H bomber with serial number 60-034. This machine was built back in 1960 and served until 2008. Then it was in storage for several years, and in 2019 its restoration began. The return of the aircraft to service was made possible by the work of the Davis-Monten base and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Repair Group.

Long story

Immediately after the end of World War II, the United States faced the problem of using and storing aircraft. The army no longer required huge quantities of such equipment, and its disposal did not always make economic sense. In this regard, in 1946, at the Davis-Monthan base (Tucson, Arizona), a storage area for B-29 bombers and C-47 transport aircraft was organized. It was assumed that this technique, if necessary, could be returned to service.

The Davis-Monten base was chosen to store equipment for a number of reasons. This airfield is capable of receiving even the largest aircraft. It is located at an altitude of 780 m above sea level in an area with occasional rainfall and low humidity. The flat landscape of the area is formed by alkaline soils, characterized by high hardness and bearing capacity. Thus, any aircraft or helicopter can be overtaken to the Davis-Monten base, solid ground makes it possible to do without the construction of parking lots, and the dry climate protects equipment from corrosion.

Fields with preserved equipment, 2015

Until 1965, there was another storage base in Arizona, used for the interests of the Navy, the ILC and the Coast Guard. However, in order to optimize it, it was closed, and all functions for conservation and storage aviation the technicians were transferred to the units of the Davis-Monten base. This state of affairs continues to this day. At the same time, the Air Force and other structures have several bases responsible only for cutting decommissioned equipment.

Currently, the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group or 309th AMARG is responsible for the work with the decommissioned materiel. Since 309, the group has been part of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which solves the problems of service and support.

B-52H bomber s / n 60-034 immediately after removal from storage, 2019

At the disposal of the 309th group at the air base there are several hangars and storage facilities for working with aircraft, placing various equipment, etc. At the same time, the most famous is the field of storage of aerospace equipment, where, in fact, the preserved products are located. The total area of ​​the "possessions" of the 309th group is approx. 11 sq. Km. The department employs approx. 700 people, mostly military. The territory of the base is closed for visits, but until recently, bus excursions were carried out together with the neighboring museum.

Process and save

The 309th AMARG is responsible for the storage of any aeronautical and space technology operated by all US government entities. First of all, we are talking about airplanes and helicopters of the main types. According to various sources, there are now at least 4400-4500 aircraft of different classes and types, as well as tens of thousands of units, elements of production lines, etc. on the base.

The incoming aviation equipment is assigned one of four categories that determine further work and storage features. Categories "1000" and "2000" provide for the conservation of equipment for long-term or short-term storage. In the future, this technique can be restored and returned to the combat unit. Category "2000" provides for the disassembly of the machine for parts with the removal of units and assemblies suitable for repairing the same type of equipment. The "4000" category includes products that are to be sold abroad.

The same aircraft after repair and modernization, February 2021.

In most cases, incoming aircraft undergo general conservation procedures. This process begins with the dismantling of pyrotechnic devices and classified equipment. In addition, the propeller blades are removed from the equipment - if available. All liquids are drained, and then the equipment is cleaned of all external and internal contaminants. In particular, the fuel system is flushed with a preservative oil that forms a protective film.

After that, the joints, hatches, etc. are sealed, and then the plane or helicopter is covered with a special polymer compound and / or covered with a cover. Thanks to this, the technique does not overheat in the hot climate of Arizona and maintains the required condition for a long time. The prepared sample is transferred to its place in the storage field.

In some cases, it is possible to change the conservation procedures. For example, B-52H strategic bombers are in storage partially disassembled. In accordance with international agreements, wings or tail sections of the fuselage were dismantled from them. Fighter-bombers of modern types are preserved according to their own procedure, with the expectation of the possibility of restoration within a few days.

F-16C parked. Surfaces exposed to the sun are coated with a special polymer

Depending on the orders received, the 309th AMARG can scraop a no longer needed aircraft or disassemble it for parts for transfer to repair departments. Also, there are frequent cases of de-preservation with the subsequent transfer of materiel to the aircraft plant for further restoration and repair. These are the procedures that B-52H s / n 60-034 underwent in the recent past.

Storage benefits

Based on considerations of optimization and economy, the Air Force and other structures of the US Army are constantly reviewing the required number of formations and units, as well as the equipment for them. In addition, the rearmament processes do not stop. All this leads to the release of significant quantities of equipment and units that are still usable. These planes and helicopters arrive at the Davis-Monten base, where they undergo the necessary procedures.

The presence of large stocks of aviation equipment, incl. of current types, allows you to replenish combat and non-combat losses, as well as ensure the rapid equipping of newly created or restored units. In addition, equipment from storage can be restored and modernized for sale abroad.

C-130 transporters - not all such vehicles are needed by combat units

Disposal of unnecessary equipment instead of conservation and the subsequent construction of new ones would lead to unjustified losses of money and time. Moreover, in some cases, the restoration of production is simply impossible. This is especially evident in the case of the B-52H bombers - they have not been produced since the early sixties, and the restoration of the existing fleet is carried out only at the expense of the Davis-Monten base.

One of the main functions of the 309th group is the dismantling of canned equipment. The withdrawn units and devices are used in the repair of other machines and are returned to operation for further use of the remaining resource. This leads to additional savings in the production of new units.

Up to 250-300 aircraft and helicopters arrive at Davis-Monten each year to be stored or dismantled, reportedly. Depending on the current plans of the Pentagon and the availability of foreign contracts, up to 80-100 units are returned to operation. equipment per year. We are also talking about thousands of components and assemblies returned to operation after dismantling.

Aviation savings

In general, the existence of the storage base and the 309th group is associated with issues of economy. Mothballing and dismantling for parts allows you to reduce the cost of maintaining an active fleet of aircraft without any loss in efficiency. At the same time, more than remarkable results are achieved. For example, 309th AMARG proudly claims that every dollar spent on its activities saves the budget $ 11.

A rebuilt A-10C flies over a storage dock, June 2020.

Other structures are also adopting the positive experience of the Pentagon. For example, Mojave Airport in California not only provides air transportation, but also provides storage space for commercial aircraft. Various attempts to create such bases were made in foreign countries, but in most cases it was about sedimentation tanks for equipment to be cut. One of the reasons for this is the lack of sites with a suitable dry and hot climate.

A well-developed system of conservation, storage and restoration of aerospace equipment, incl. older types, currently only available in the United States and built around a single Air Force facility. Recent decades have shown that this is sufficient to meet the challenges and achieve the required economic and operational benefits. Therefore, it should be expected that the 309th group for maintenance and repair of aerospace equipment at the Davis-Monten base will continue to work in the future and ensure the implementation of all plans of the command - from maintaining the condition of its own fleet to selling equipment to foreign partners.
Photos used:
U.S. Air Force
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  1. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 16 March 2021 18: 02
    Who cares, a list of what is in storage:

    How much B-52 is left in storage:

    1. Normal ok
      Normal ok 16 March 2021 18: 37
      I would like to give you a plus, but this right has been withdrawn from me ((
      1. NEOZ
        NEOZ 17 March 2021 13: 11
        Quote: Normal ok
        but this right has been withdrawn from me ((

        oh that's why i can't put +/- !!!!!!
  2. AC130 Ganship
    AC130 Ganship 16 March 2021 18: 27
    Was there on a guided tour a few years ago. They don't let you out of the bus, but it's still very informative. All planes are carefully pasted over with films. The main thing is that in Zone A, where there are thousands of mothballed aircraft, you can take anyone, remove the film from it, prepare it, and it will fly. There are even new C27s, which were bought from Italy, and they were not needed by the US Air Force.
    1. mr.ZinGer
      mr.ZinGer 16 March 2021 19: 15
      I envy you, but on the other hand, it's a shame, you can watch, you can't touch.
      Were you allowed to take pictures?
      1. AC130 Ganship
        AC130 Ganship 16 March 2021 20: 19
        Yes, they were allowed to take pictures without any problems. There, nearby, 2 km away, there is another aviation museum, opened by enthusiasts. They simply buy back (or ask for a gift) the plane, which they are preparing to send to Zone B (zone of no return), where they are carefully disassembled for parts.
  3. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 16 March 2021 19: 03
    And I have one feeling "de ja vu"? It seems that about four years ago there was already an article about these storages. And the controversy was stormy for how long it takes to get the plane back into operation ...
    1. Dimka75
      Dimka75 16 March 2021 22: 42
      In my opinion Linnik Sergey. Scrolled through, like for 2018. It has a "polygons" cycle.
  4. Your stranger
    Your stranger 16 March 2021 19: 06
    Interestingly, during the Soviet era, this could have been done in Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan.
    1. moreman78
      moreman78 17 March 2021 12: 07
      About Tupkmenistan - it is doubtful, but in Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, I think it would be quite possible to find a suitable place. But what in the days of the USSR, what is now the generals and officials from the Ministry of Defense - this is simply not interesting. Therefore, our reserve planes and helicopters are rotting. There was a similar mess with the reserve of the Navy in the USSR (the ships simply rotted against the wall). By the way, in the United States, everything is in order with the ship's reserve - they normally carry out the conservation of ships.
      1. alruza
        alruza 6 May 2021 16: 24
        Kazakhstan may not be considered as a suitable area for open storage of aircraft, without protective structures. There is no place in Kazakhstan where snow does not fall in winter.
  5. Alien From
    Alien From 16 March 2021 19: 18
    The Yankees know how to count money, they know how!
  6. Niko
    Niko 16 March 2021 19: 43
  7. ramzay21
    ramzay21 16 March 2021 20: 39
    This is how the base for storage, conservation and repair should look like
    1. agond
      agond 16 March 2021 20: 55
      It is necessary to design and build airplanes on the condition that they can be stored for a long time in an open parking lot, everything deteriorates from storage, cars and even tanks and ships are probably the fastest
  8. Fitter65
    Fitter65 17 March 2021 00: 08
    Aviation equipment storage base Chebenki, though the photo was taken 14 years ago
    1. nPuBaTuP
      nPuBaTuP 17 March 2021 09: 34
      Is there a lot or was there before the equipment?
      I ask without sarcasm and joke .. It's really interesting ...
      1. Fitter65
        Fitter65 17 March 2021 11: 27
        There was a lot. It's just that kind people sent me a photo of this board at that time. By the way board with 83 dietary supplements 277 Mlavsky BAP. It was painted by S. Chernyavsky. At that time, there were a lot of things there, both Su-17s and MiG-23 / 27s ... If you are interested, just dial the Chebenki aviation equipment storage base. By the way, there was a separate storage base for air defense equipment and army aviation. But they all presented a pitiful sight compared to Davis-Montan, by the way in the film "
        Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Cowboy have footage filmed at this storage base.
        1. Pete mitchell
          Pete mitchell 17 March 2021 17: 41
          We passed our 23p there, I don't want to remember ...
        2. Timon2155
          Timon2155 18 March 2021 14: 51
          I always read with interest about this base, look at photos from satellites, try to understand "how they are", compare them with our Chebenki. He served in Chebenki in 2007-2009, an aircraft technician. There were no conditions for storing equipment at all. Stupid airfield and that's it. In the summer, it's hot, it's impossible to touch the equipment, in the winter it's snow and cold. Changes in temperature and humidity are not for storage. A couple of years, that's all, they sailed. There were few people, a lot of planes, people were mostly busy with outfits and all sorts of nonsense not related to storage. In December 2008. We sent 4 aircrafts of simple (not M) Su-24 to Smuravyovo. It was difficult to restore, long, a lot of failures. Su-17UM3 board 56 red in Monino, also from Chebenki. Anyone interested, ask, I will answer. At one time I took a lot of photos there, for history, so to speak))) I shared with the kind people above)))
    2. The comment was deleted.
  9. Alecsandr
    Alecsandr 17 March 2021 09: 38
    At one time, the Tu-160 should have been at least put on mothballing, and not stupidly cut into metal. The Americans turned out to be more cunning with the B-52. It is also a strategic carrier of nuclear weapons.
  10. Maks1995
    Maks1995 17 March 2021 11: 48
    There was a BBC movie about it.
    There are not only the military, there are all kinds of workshops for the repair, restoration and production of replicas and non-serial aircraft.
    We need a replica LA-5 - bring blueprints and money. They will do it.
  11. ENOTE
    ENOTE 17 March 2021 15: 13
    But why does Russia treat any technique like that? They're all chickens! And where are all the legendary vehicles?
    Even the ekranoplan "Lun" gathered in a hostel to turn Derbent hustlers ...
    They are already looking where to make holes for showers and toilets. And this is the only device !!!
  12. xomaNN
    xomaNN 1 June 2021 11: 07
    Here the bourgeois Yankees know how to count their money crying A useful thing is competent conservation. Remembering our thoughtless steps in the USSR and Russia to destroy the same aircraft. And ships. And in the 60s under Khrushchev and in the 90s under EBN.
    And we have less money than the Yankees. It ought to be more thorough with them.

  13. Dmitry V.
    Dmitry V. 10 June 2021 12: 24
    Strategic aluminum reserve.