YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Representatives from the U.S. Air Force Next Generation Aircrew Protection (NGAP) project visited 374th Airlift Wing leadership and 36th Airlift Squadron members to provide research data and demonstrate the results of the project for the first time on a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, March 30.
The NGAP project is an all-encompassing analysis of aircraft, equipment, and procedures for operation in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) environments. The objective for the project is to modernize protective wear and streamline training, tactics, and procedures (TTPs).
“Information is the deliverable from the program and we’re here to share it,” said Lt. Col. Michael Fleming, U.S. Pacific Air Forces Aviation Management command physiologist. “CBRN countermeasures are an imperfect science because risk is always a factor when dealing with contaminants. However, we’re providing research data and operational options to commanders so they can make the best decisions possible, given a crisis situation.”
Members of the 36th AS conducted a first-of-its-kind CBRN training scenario to test the updated procedures and aircrew protective equipment, which gave squadron pilots, loadmasters, aircrew flight equipment specialists, and ground crews a first-hand appreciation of the NGAP results.
The equipment aircrews use differs from the Department of Defense standard issue Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) suits, commonly referred to as Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear, to accommodate for the needs of operating inside an aircraft.
“It's a very thorough system and these updates make it better,” said Airman 1st Class Hailey Edie, 36th AS Aircrew Flight Equipment technician. “This gear, coupled with these evolving processes, help keep everyone safe to continue executing the mission. Even after we process and recover aircraft crews, there’s more TTPs here that ensure captured contaminants stay contained after a decontamination procedure.”
The research results included ways to decontaminate a C-130 mid-flight, which can lessen the limits on crews and mission efficacy.
Additionally, the project provided TTPs for safely and efficiently launching and recovering a flying mission in a simulated contaminated environment.
“The updated suit and accessories are lighter, more mobile, and easier to put on and take off,” said Capt. David Hook, 36th AS C-130J Super Hercules pilot. “There’s a certain amount of unpleasantness in using CBRN gear, but it’s safer and easier to operate in a confined environment like the interior of our aircraft.”
The visiting NGAP team is set to visit installations throughout PACAF with the goal of helping establish the newly updated aircrew CBRN protection measures. This USAF-wide effort is yet another step in the direction of keeping Team Yokota to remain combat ready in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.