USAHELLFIRE team sustaining fight, cutting costs

CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar — As equip­ment is tran­si­tioned out of Iraq, per­haps none is more crit­i­cal than the HELLFIRE mis­sile sys­tem. Since the draw­down began, more than 750 HELLFIRE mis­siles have been shipped to the 402nd Army Field Sup­port Bat­tal­ion-Qatar, where they are ser­viced, test­ed and repaired by the HELLFIRE For­ward Test and Repair Facil­i­ty.

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The HELLFIRE team returned near­ly half of those mis­siles back into the­ater com­bat stocks, said Lt. Col. Michael Brown, direc­tor of Acqui­si­tion, Logis­tics and Tech­nol­o­gy, for the 402nd Army Field Sup­port Brigade. 

“Because of this facil­i­ty, turn­around times for HELLFIRE mis­siles are now less than 90 days. That’s a cost avoid­ance of more than $39,000 per mis­sile. Plus, this is reduc­ing the work­load at state­side depots by about 58 per­cent,” Brown said. 

The HELLFIRE mis­sile is the pri­ma­ry pre­ci­sion air-to-ground weapon used by joint and coali­tion ser­vices to pro­tect ground forces and non-com­bat­ants. More than 11,000 have been fired in com­bat oper­a­tions since 2001. 

“The HELLFIRE facil­i­ty in Qatar is sav­ing the Army mon­ey, sav­ing trans­port time and opti­miz­ing readi­ness by test­ing, repair­ing and reset­ting mis­siles in a for­ward depot,” Brown said. 

Acqui­si­tion offi­cials esti­mate the HELLFIRE facil­i­ty in Qatar will save the Army more than $55 mil­lion dur­ing the next three years. 

“This is a great ini­tia­tive to return crit­i­cal­ly need­ed assets back to the warfight­er more effi­cient­ly and with less down­time than a full depot main­te­nance effort,” said Susan Carl­son, deputy chief of staff, Army Logis­tics (G‑4), after a recent visit. 

“To date, assets returned have gone back into the hands of the warfight­er and been used against insur­gents and oth­er hos­tile ele­ments, sav­ing U.S. and coali­tion lives in the process. To be able to turn them around in three-four months vice two-three years saves the Army mon­ey, increas­es our readi­ness and gets the best sys­tems to the fight,” Carl­son said. 

Brig Gen. Karen LeDoux, com­mand­ing gen­er­al, Army Materiel Com­mand-South­west Asia/G‑4, U.S. Army Cen­tral-Kuwait, also vis­it­ed the Qatar site and keyed in on the readi­ness aspect of the facility. 

“Oper­a­tions here have result­ed in a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the avail­abil­i­ty and readi­ness of the Joint Warfighter’s air-to-ground mis­sile of choice,” said LeDoux. 

The Qatar HELLFIRE For­ward Test and Repair Facil­i­ty was rec­og­nized in 2011 by the iSixSig­ma com­mu­ni­ty for the largest break­through improve­ment project in the cus­tomer ser­vice category. 

That was a direct result of a Lean Six Sig­ma Black Belt project, which is an aggres­sive tool used by lead­ers of indus­try to reduce waste and improve effec­tive­ness of process­es. As the Defense Depart­ment faces a future of bud­get cuts, the HELLFIRE pro­gram is already a fron­trun­ner in prac­tic­ing lean. 

“The efforts by this high­ly tal­ent­ed group in the 402nd AFSB have embod­ied the best of what Lean Six Sig­ma ini­tia­tives can do to sup­port our warfight­ers, by doing more, with­out more,” said LeDoux. 

US Army

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