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Airmen save AF money through innovation, ingenuity

Master Sgt. Jerry Smith, 48th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair Enhancement Program manager, measures a resistor for a video tape recorder that will be used on an F-15 March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. AFREP fixes aircraft items that can't be fixed in aircraft maintenance back shops, are in short supply AF wide or non-procurable. The majority of AFREP repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Master Sgt. Jerry Smith, 48th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair Enhancement Program manager, measures a resistor for a video tape recorder that will be used on an F-15 March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. AFREP fixes aircraft items that can't be fixed in aircraft maintenance back shops, are in short supply AF wide or non-procurable. The majority of AFREP repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Master Sgt. Jerry Smith, 48th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair Enhancement Program manager, solders a resistor onto a video tape recorder March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. This 15 minute repair will save the Air Force about $1,100. The three AFREP Airmen have generated more than $268,000 in funds for the 48th Maintenance Group so far in FY08. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Master Sgt. Jerry Smith, 48th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair Enhancement Program manager, solders a resistor onto a video tape recorder March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. This 15 minute repair will save the Air Force about $1,100. The three AFREP Airmen have generated more than $268,000 in funds for the 48th Maintenance Group so far in FY08. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Ellis, 48th Maintenance Group AFREP lead technician, points out a component on a video event marker March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. The majority of AFREP repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Ellis, 48th Maintenance Group AFREP lead technician, points out a component on a video event marker March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. The majority of AFREP repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Ellis, 48th Maintenance Group AFREP lead technician, points out a component on a video event marker March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. The majority of AFREP repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Ellis, 48th Maintenance Group AFREP lead technician, points out a component on a video event marker March 17 at RAF Lakenheath, England. The majority of AFREP repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Since the institution of Air Force Smart Operations 21, Airmen around the Air Force are looking for different ways to save money.

One resource many base agencies might overlook is the Air Force Repair Enhancement Program.

AFREP, formerly the Gold Flag Program, helps the Air Force save money in two ways-- funds generation and cost avoidance. They repair aircraft equipment that would've otherwise been thrown away and they repair equipment to avoid customers from replacing those items.

"Our goal is to save as much money overall as possible," said Master Sgt. Jerry Smith, 48th Maintenance Group AFREP Manager. "We want to expand our visibility to see if we can support more base agencies."

According to Sergeant Smith, most of their time is spent fixing aircraft items that can't be fixed in aircraft maintenance back shops, are in short supply AF wide, or non-procurable. The majority of these repairs are done using microscopes, because they are at the miniature/micro-miniature circuit level.

By fixing these aircraft items, the three AFREP Liberty Warriors have generated more than $268,000 in funds for the 48th Maintenance Group so far in fiscal year 2008. From communication cables to aircraft video tape recorders, AFREP Airmen fix items that, individually, are relatively inexpensive, but critical to keeping the aircraft flying.

Some of the items they work with can be as small as a pepper flake, but if they are part of a critical piece of equipment, the aircraft can't fly.

Another way AFREP helps Lakenheath save money is through cost avoidance. These are the items base agencies bring in for repair, which helps them avoid replacing the item. In fiscal year 2007, AFREP saved the wing more than $1.3 million in cost avoidances.

According to Sergeant Smith, AFREP is willing to help any RAF Lakenheath, Mildenhall or Feltwell agencies, however; priority is given to mission essential repairs.

"It's never fool-proof that we can fix everything," said Sergeant Smith. "We consider what's cost effective, whether we have the ability to fix it, material availability and prioritization. There are a number of things to consider, however; we'll look at just about anything."

AFREP can fix most electrical items including: video equipment, shredders and test equipment. They can also work on specialized computer systems and communications systems. AFREP does not accept office printers for repair because there is a commercial contract dedicated for those repairs.

"We want to save the maintenance group as much money as possible, but we can also help out by fixing medical, dental or transportation equipment. We are willing to make 'house calls' for items that are too big to move," said Sergeant Smith. "With the continual cutbacks and less money Air Force wide there's less and less money for day-to-day items. Our repairs can help fill these requirements and save money to purchase other items."

Tech. Sgt. Darrell Ellis, 48th MXG AFREP lead technician, said that recently, someone brought AFREP a $150,000 piece of equipment with a broken switch. The customer thought they were going to have to send it back to the manufacture for repair. It took 10 minutes for AFREP to fix the problem and the product was good to go.

"I would imagine there's a lot of equipment around the base where people tripped over a cord, knocked into something or accidentally broke a switch," he said. "Give us a call or bring over those items, the whole premise behind AFREP is to save money."

AFREP can be contacted at 226-3136 or emailed at 48mxg.afrep@lakenheath.af.mil and is located in the RAF Lakenheath maintenance complex in building 1385.