While officials ponder possibly closing one of the nation's five air logistics centers, a new study gives some reasons why it should not be the one at Utah's Hill Air Force Base.
A U.S. General Accounting Office report shows the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill has some of the highest ratings for production, productivity, resources and capacity. But it came in only fourth place out of the five centers in its ranking for quality.The center at Hill repairs and modifies the F-4, F-16 and C-130 aircraft, and maintains such Air Force missile systems as the MX, Minuteman, Maverick and Sidewinder. It is also the technology repair center for weapons, air munitions, landing gears, photographic equipment and simulators.
As the report said, "The Air Force is considering the possibility of reducing or perhaps removing all depot maintenance activity from one center" to save money because of the reduced threat from the Eastern bloc.
Rep. Vic Fazio, D-Calif., who has one of the centers in his Sacramento district, asked the GAO to study the performance and capacity of the different centers.
It showed the Hill center performed maintenance work on more aircraft than any other center - 291 in 1989. The lowest number was at the San Antonio Air Logistics Center - 62.
Hill tied for second in the percent of aircraft maintenance completed on time in 1989: 99 percent. The lowest was 35 percent at San Antonio.
Hill came in only fourth on the percentage of repairs that resulted in complaints in 1989, 1.66 percent. The worst was 2.16 percent at the Walter Robins center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
The Hill center ranked third in the size of its work force, 6,873; third in the size of work space, 3.6 million square feet; and first in the replacement cost of its equipment, $585 million.
All five centers operated at a loss from what they charged to other military agencies for services. But the Hill center has the second smallest loss in 1989, $19 million.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, whose district contains Hill, said, "I'm not surprised that the GAO report looks good because Hill Air Force Base always comes out high in all sorts of rankings prepared by the Air Force every year."
He said secretaries of defense and Air Force generals have told him for years they feel that the Ogden center at Hill "is one of the best-run and has one of the highest work ethics."
Hansen, who is also on the House Armed Services Committee, said he is also confident that if an air logistics center is closed, that it will not be at Hill.
"It is strategically located in the center of the West, which the others aren't," he said. "There will always be a Hill Air Force Base unless there is the Second Coming and total peace on earth . . . Hill will be around long after I'm pushing up daisies."
Hansen added it will likely be several years before any of the centers are closed anyway "because they are all huge operations," but increased demand to cut defense costs will likely eventually demand it.