NEWS | Nov. 30, 2020

PACAF Airmen take Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System to New Heights

By Airman 1st Class Jordan Smith 673 ABW

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Twelve civil engineer Airmen from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, completed a 12-day secondary operator training course of the newly adopted Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System (RADAS), at JBER, Nov. 20, 2020.

RADAS is one of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s latest research and development projects and is the first step in recovering a runway after an attack. It uses Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) designed to significantly reduce hazardous exposure Airmen might encounter while assessing a damaged runway as well as reduce the time the airfield recovery and assessment process takes.

“With SUAS, we eliminate the risk of putting engineers on the ground assessing damage with craters, spalls and unexploded ordinances (UXOs) on the airfield, which is especially dangerous during night operations,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Youngblood, 773 Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) craftsman.

This new innovative technology, currently adopted by the Pacific Command and fielded through Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), cultivates the region’s long-term capabilities of competing, deterring, and winning by saving lives and cutting flight line recovery times drastically in a real-world scenario.

“Our SUAS offers a cutting edge capability to assess airfield damage which normally would take hours,” said Youngblood. “Now with SUAS, our goal by FY22 is 30 minutes.”

In operational use, the SUAS is capable of quickly deploying and locating airfield damage as well as UXOs after an attack. The real-time view gives both engineers and installation leaders the ability to have a clear visual of flight line images instantly allowing them to curate a recovery plan.

SUAS operators had to overcome the cold temperatures and harsh environments Alaska offers during the month of November.

“This class is also important because it confirms Camp Madbull as a joint regional training site,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Paul Hosmanek, 673d Civil Engineer Group unit deployment manager. “This will be the first class where three different bases from two commands have sent people to perform training.”

This was the second training course for CE Airmen, but it’s the first to yield certification. The course was first implemented in PACAF, with plans to expand the course Air Force-wide.