NIAR expands military fleet sustainment capabilities

Through a new collaboration with McFarland Research and Development, Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) will expand its burgeoning military fleet sustainment research and development capabilities.  

McFarland R&D, founded by Randy McFarland, will continue in operation. To further leverage McFarland R&D’s existing programs, NIAR will assume its facilities, equipment and operations — which focus on unique airframe repair and replacement strategies, tooling development to support repairs and modifications and depot support — beginning June 1. 

McFarland R&D currently supports legacy military platforms, and NIAR will gain valuable access these airframes and components. NIAR’s expansion into these new capabilities and resources will provide additional applied learning opportunities for students related to novel tooling design, modification of military airframes, depot line support, and process development for airframe repair and modification. NIAR will also gain experienced staff, including founder Randy McFarland.

“This collaboration is a critical move to expand NIAR’s military sustainment support,” said John Tomblin, WSU senior vice president for Industry & Defense Programs and NIAR executive director. “Gaining access to legacy military sustainment experts and training NIAR personnel and students alongside them will ensure their wealth of knowledge is transferred to the future leaders in the field.”

The new staff and facilities will become part of the NIAR’s Sustainment Lab, led by Melinda Laubach-Hock, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field. She oversees teardown, inspection, failure analysis, and process development activity for NIAR’s military digital twin programs.

“Mr. McFarland and his team have developed a unique set of capabilities over the past two decades critical to the sustainment of aging bomber and tanker fleets,” Laubach-Hock said.  “NIAR welcomes Mr. McFarland and his team to the Sustainment Lab to learn from their wealth of knowledge and ability to solve complex maintenance problems to ensure continued support to the DoD for generations to follow.”

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling almost 22,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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