PACAF visits Kunsan AB, validates next-gen aircrew protection

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Isaiah J. Soliz
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Pacific Air Forces recently deployed a joint team of representatives and subject matter experts to Kunsan Air Base, conducting the major command’s first test and validation of counter-chemical warfare tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP.

These tests are part of the Next Generation Aircrew Protection program, designed to ensure aircrew have proper chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, or CBRN, protective equipment and that CBRN measures are modernized to meet emerging threats while maintaining peak human performance.

“Current aircrew and pilot CBRN protective equipment are effective but restrictive and burdensome, thus hindering combat effectiveness,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Hall, PACAF aircrew flight equipment major command functional manager. “The Air Force realized this in late 2021 and early 2022 and set aside about $16 million to conduct research on aircraft, ground and air testing across various platforms to collect quantitative and qualitative data.”

Armed with the data, researchers refined existing TTPs to better equip aircrews, like Kunsan AB’s, with the tools necessary to continue the ‘Fight Tonight’ mission.

“Wing commanders have an associated risk attached to nearly every decision they make,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Rios, PACAF AFE command manager. “With the integrated data and refined TTPs, wing commanders now have additional information to help them make those tough decisions and continue executing their mission should a CBRN event occur.”

The TTPs are the brainchild of Col. Daniel Roberts, who now serves as 97th Medical Group commander at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

“Risk is ever-present,” Roberts said. “Looking at combat operations in a chemical environment brings the question to mind; ‘How does one balance and right-size risk to improve combat effectiveness?’ Thinking this way allowed us to improve human performance and the ability of our ground crews to turn aircraft in an effective manner so our combat forces are ready when called upon.”

The program’s tests and validations affected several base agencies to include the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons, 8th Operations Support Squadron AFE, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management, 8th Maintenance Group and the 8th Medical Group bioenvironmental engineering flight.

Participating Airmen tested the updated CBRN TTPs safely and efficiently by stepping, launching and recovering a flying mission in a simulated chemical filled environment.

The PACAF team is scheduled to validate every installation within the MAJCOM and ultimately will establish standardized PACAF-wide counter-chemical warfare aircrew protection measures. Efforts like this help ensure Kunsan AB maintains maximum combat readiness capabilities to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.