The 169th Fighter Wing hosted another U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) conducted runway repair demonstration from Aug. 16 to Sept. 1. During this iteration, lessons learned from the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) held at McEntire Joint National Guard Base (JNGB) four months ago have been incorporated this time around into a military utility assessment (MUA).
“What you see here today is the culmination of four years of work for the program. We were here in April for an interim audit and this event here is the highlight, ”said Mr. Kawakahi Amina, Deputy Operational Director for the JCTD of USINDOPACOM J46X.
Over the past two weeks, US Air Force civilian engineers, including several from the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron, have partnered with the US Navy Seabees and US Marine Corps engineers to field test the ability to “just enough, just in time” repair a damaged runway. This new concept of repair is known as Expedited and Expeditionary Aerodrome Damage Repair (E-ADR).
“As our concepts evolve, we learn that speed, agility and flexibility are some of the most important factors that affect our ability to respond. We thought we would have months to fix and those months are now days. [E-ADR] is a method to help reduce this tyranny of distance and time, ”said US Army Lt. Col. Christian Dietz, operational director of USINDOPACOM J44 JCTD.
AFCEC’s E-ADR concept uses locally sourced materials and reduced manpower and equipment to expedite a temporary runway repair designed to support tactical and mixed combat operations up to so that a permanent repair can be carried out.
The MUA wrapped up on Tuesday with a Distinguished Visitors Day designed to showcase the new concept of track repair from start to finish. On DV day, visitors were able to walk through 10 stations from the very start of cleaning up debris around a crater to the end where the temporary cap is anchored to the concrete above the repaired hole. Senior military and defense ministry officials spent several hours observing the joint engineering teams in action as subject matter experts briefed the DVs on a walking tour led by a docent in each. demonstration stations. Some of the demonstrations included assessing the damage, cutting the concrete with diamond-tipped saws, breaking and excavating the damaged area, treating and compacting the backfill and finally covering the repair with a carpet. of fiber reinforced polymer.
For MUA, US Air Force engineers were mainly drawn from the bases of the American Indo-Pacific Command, including Kadena Air Base, Misawa Air Base and Yokota Air Base in Japan, Andersen Air Base. , in Guam; Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; More Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC and finally the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron. US Navy Seabees traveled from the Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, while US Marine Corps engineers traveled from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, SC
“We are the only Guard unit here. We are here at the forefront and on the cutting edge of something that is evolving and that is going to affect the entire joint force and the way we use combat air power. And not just the Air Force. We have the Navy here, the Marines here, and you have the Army here. The entire joint force has a role to play in recovering damage to the airfield, ”said US Air Force Col. Tim Dotson, commander of the 169th Mission Support Group.
Like last time in April, the first week started with the blasting of 18 craters in the old trail. Then, engineers from the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps were split into two teams to tackle several capabilities to be tested. After receiving classroom instruction, the two teams proceeded to the field where they pursued several noted and timed goals. Objectives included rapid cutting and removal of debris in craters, filling and compacting craters with material, plugging craters, and performing a repair quality assessment.
What makes this cycle different are the lessons learned from April that have been incorporated into this MUA.
“Operationally, it’s the same thing. We have fine-tuned the [equipment] kit based on things we first learned in April. There are TTP modifications (tactics, techniques, procedures), material modifications and different tools depending on what we learned the first time. We try to be lighter, lighter, lighter and more expeditionary. The idea is to refine the toolkit down to what is needed for the mission, ”Amina said.
What the E-ADR concept offers compared to traditional runway repair operations is a small footprint in personnel and material. Essentially, the E-ADR is a scaled-down version of the existing Airstrip Damage Repair (RADR) concept currently in use, but with much leaner logistics. Each temporary repair must withstand the weight and stress of tactical and cargo aircraft potentially tens of times before a permanent repair can be made later.
“The equipment you are going to see is much smaller than traditional airfield repairs. He wants to be light and expeditionary. It is intended to align with emerging combat concepts that take us away from major bases of operations, ”said Amina.
While the traditional RADR concept might require dozens of C-5 Galaxy planes to transport material and equipment for a runway repair, the E-ADR concept has been reduced to just four C-130 Hercules planes from a equipment and material value, explained Dr Bobby Diltz, E-ADR Technical Manager, AFCEC. And instead of having weeks or months to fix a track, the E-ADR target is ready to be reached within 48 hours, according to Diltz.
In times of war, the ultimate goal is to resume combat as quickly as possible. This is what makes E-ADR so attractive.
“Savings are logistics. It’s not a big logistical footprint. We can use materials on site in the hopes of getting the planes back in the air as soon as possible, ”Dotson said.
During DV Day, USINDOPACOM and AFCEC representatives expressed appreciation for the support and assistance provided by the 169th Fighter Wing over the past year.
“I have to say thank you to Colonel Akshai Gandhi the Wing Commander here and also to Colonel Tim Dotson for supporting the mission. [group] commander. Thank you both gentlemen for your support. You really kissed us, ”said Diltz.