US Air Force infrastructure strategy uses analytics to speed up repairs

Talal Husseini 25 March 2019 (Last Updated March 25th, 2019 12:29)

A new US Air Force infrastructure strategy is using the latest data analytics tools to enhance air force readiness at bases across the world.

US Air Force infrastructure strategy uses analytics to speed up repairs
The US Air Force has announced a new infrastructure investment strategy, which uses analytics tools to speed up maintenance and repair works. Credit: US Air Force.

A new US Air Force infrastructure strategy is using the latest data analytics tools to enhance air force readiness at bases across the world.

The Infrastructure Investment Strategy has been developed following one year of research, and will transform the process of operations and maintenance, according to the US Air Force. The tools will help it to better prepare for and carry out repair works, which previously occurred under a ‘worst is first’ strategy that often meant issues would become very expensive before they were resolved.

Under the new US Air Force infrastructure strategy, data analytics can alert maintenance crews to vital small repairs before the problem balloons into something much more expensive. The strategy includes demolishing the oldest 5% of buildings at any given base periodically, before issues become more costly.

Secretary of the US Air Force Heather Wilson said: “This new approach is going to make a difference on our bases for decades to come. We’ll get more out of every dollar we are spending and, over time, we will improve the quality of life of our airmen and their families.”

Every air force base must have a master plan to prioritise maintenance and upgrades work across all infrastructures, from hangars and runways to command centres and ranges, according to the US Air Force infrastructure strategy.

The latest techniques in data analytics, such as advanced modelling and simulation, will support the strategy to estimate things like the right level of funding, prioritised projects, and which buildings should be included in the 5% to be demolished.

"The Infrastructure Investment Strategy is a necessary improvement of our existing approach to infrastructure investment to ensure maximum benefit amid limited funding."

The air force plans to fund at least 2% of replacement value of each building demolished.

Furthermore, it has requested $2bn in additional funds for updating its infrastructure, as highlighted in the budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.

US Air Force chief of staff General David Goldfein said: “We will commit to a base level of funding and use data to inform decisions. Ultimately, this is about making targeted investments at the right time and in the right place. As an air force, we fight from our bases and must keep them ready to meet our national security challenges.”

The new strategy is also a chance to reduce some of the backlog that has resulted in several years of delay to maintenance and repair work at airbases, according to the US Air Force assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy John W Henderson.

“Between budget challenges and competing priorities over the last several years, leadership at times was forced to postpone and re-prioritise infrastructure maintenance,” he said.

“The Infrastructure Investment Strategy is a necessary improvement of our existing approach to infrastructure investment to ensure maximum benefit amid limited funding.”