NEWS | Sept. 19, 2018

Kunsan Air Base Launches USAF's First-ever Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System Test Flight

By Staff Sgt. Jasmonet D. Jackson 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Kunsan is getting ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation and executing new ideas that improve the way the Air Force trains and fights.

Most recently, the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) conducted the United States Air Force’s first-ever Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System (RADAS) operational test flight here, August 11, 2018.

Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System is one of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Readiness Directorate’s latest research and development projects for improving the airfield recovery and assessment process.

The flight conducted by the 8th CES tested launching operations and airfield overhead assessment capabilities of an Aeryon SkyRanger drone. This system is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UVA) that provides reliable operations in harsh environments and demanding weather conditions.

In a real-world scenario, this innovative tool is capable of quickly deploying and locating airfield damage or unexploded ordnances (UXO), left after a base attack. It gives both engineers and base leadership the capability to have a clear overhead flight line picture, rewind and zoom in or out to view the airfield during an assessment.

“Our goal within RADAS is to quickly make a complete and accurate damage assessment of the runway and airfield conditions with our drones following an incident so we can brief the wing commander on actual real time findings,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Patteson, noncommissioned officer in charge of execution support. “That’ll allow him to make the best decision as far as corrective action for repair faster and ultimately get the airfield back up and running for launch and recovery sooner.”

The traditional way of assessing an airfield following an attack involved using an Airfield Damage Assessment Team (ADAT). This method consist of a four personnel team driving to various locations on the flight line and getting out in a potential contaminated environment to assess conditions.

Using RADAS reduces the number of Airmen exposed to hazards, while also improving overall efficiency. It only requires a two-man team to set up the drone, remotely pilot the system, and review the damage in real time -- in only about one hour, said Airman 1st Class Alexander Avenido, 8th CES Geobase technician.

The 8th CES Airmen will continue to train with these drones operationally with hopes of making them mainstream across the Air Force in the near future.

“As the first operational use of RADAS, this is a significant achievement for the Wolf Pack as well as the entire Air Force. It represents the culmination of months of hard work by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and our Red Devil RADAS team led by Senior Master Sgt. Joe Towne, said Maj. John Conner, 8th CES commander. “Kunsan is proud to lead the way and we look forward to sharing lessons learned with engineers around the globe."