JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
The Expedient Small Asset Protection (ESAP) shelter system ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 24, 2023, to bookmark the Air Force’s newest aircraft shelter system becoming fully operationally capable. Pacific Air Forces continues to strengthen rapid deployment capabilities that modernize our force to maintain the competitive advantage in an ever-changing security environment.
The ESAP shelters currently come in two configurations – an aircraft variant and an equipment variant. Both variants can be employed in either built-up or austere environments. These systems advance Agile Combat Employment capabilities and provide protection to 4th and 5th generation aircraft and mission essential equipment.
“This is the first operational ESAP-1 in the Air Force,” said Col. Jared Paslay, Pacific Air Forces Agile Combat Employment Joint Integration Team lead. “The shelter system is essentially a ‘hangar in a box’, designed to be used in any environment and to greatly enhance U.S. forces’ ability to operate from locations at a higher capacity, ensuring Airmen and aircrews are postured to respond across the spectrum of military operations.”
The 554th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) Squadron, part of the 36th Contingency Response Group
at Andersen Air Force Base, managed the engineering, construction, and implementation of the ESAP in coordination with Dogwood Industries.
“My team worked super hard, and I can’t praise them enough for building the first ESAP-1 in PACAF,” said TSgt Cassidy Babb, 554th RED HORSE Structural Craftsman and ESAP Project Manager. “The Dogwood engineers designed the ESAP with a highly efficient process and it allows any Airman to quickly learn and become a skilled worker.”
Compared to traditional construction projects, the ESAP shelter’s pre-engineered design allows it to be assembled with reduced manpower and equipment. ESAPs are also relocatable and can be re-positioned across the region to meet changing Combatant Command mission requirements.
“Deploying units from home stations to forward operating locations in an ACE environment can be challenging,” said Paslay. “ESAP shelter systems were designed to ensure PACAF can meet ACE mission requirements to provide smaller, dispersed, resilient, adaptive basing at a moment’s notice.”
ESAP shelter systems not only provide a more robust posture to deter our adversaries, but also enhance resiliency in our forces.
“Pre-engineered to be deployed via a series of shipping containers, we can build, pack up, and rebuild these shelters where needed,” said Maj Omar Cervantes, 554th RED HORSE Engineering Flight Commander and ESAP Lead Project Engineer. “The ESAP is a game-changing asset for our AOR! With minimal equipment, a small team can quickly shelter combat aircraft.”
ACE advancements like this ultimately provide the joint force commander the ability to fluidly move forces across the theater to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative against any adversary and presents layers of operational unpredictability to an adversary’s strategic decision making.
“These protective shelters give a huge posture boost to our distributed air assets and supporting materiel on the ground that more effectively supports the forward-deployed joint forces defending a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” said Col. Paslay. “Whether it is the long-term degrading effect of a demanding climate or a more conventional scenario like a kinetic military strike, these types of capabilities are a great step forward in protecting critical joint and coalition assets.”
The ESAP development both enhances the capability of our forces and augments the resiliency and protection we can provide to our Allies and partners as we seek to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.