HomeNewsArticle Display

Civil engineer teams sustain Bagram runway, ensure combat airpower

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, of the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, inspects the runway as rubber is removed Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Foam and biodegradable solvents are used to strip the rubber left behind by the aircraft that land or take off from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, of the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, inspects the runway as rubber is removed Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Foam and biodegradable solvents are used to strip the rubber left behind by the aircraft that land or take off from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

Airmen from the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, remove rubber from the runway Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Foam and biodegradable solvents are used to strip the rubber left behind by the aircraft that land or take off from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

Airmen from the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, remove rubber from the runway Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Foam and biodegradable solvents are used to strip the rubber left behind by the aircraft that land or take off from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, of the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, removes rubber from the runway Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Foam and biodegradable solvents are used to strip the rubber left behind by the aircraft that land or take off from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, of the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, removes rubber from the runway Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Foam and biodegradable solvents are used to strip the rubber left behind by the aircraft that land or take off from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron paint runway markings Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The paint is mixed with reflective beads to ensure that the markings can be seen by the pilots coming and going from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron paint runway markings Oct. 22, 2015, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The paint is mixed with reflective beads to ensure that the markings can be seen by the pilots coming and going from Bagram in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- With combat airpower operations coming and going from Bagram Airfield nearly every three minutes, taking care of the flightline is a vital operation.

Airmen from the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, worked to remove rubber buildup on the runway, while teaming up with the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron that was performing upkeep on the arresting cable system and worn reflective markings, all in order to ensure another six months of runway integrity.

“I believe that this maintenance is a significant part of what we are trying to keep going (in terms of airpower) in Afghanistan and around the area of responsibility,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, of the 577th EPBS, who is deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. “It’s just a small part of the bigger picture.”

To remove the buildup caused by constant air traffic, the team from Al Udeid first applied a solvent to begin to break up the rubber. They then used modified sweepers to grind in the solvent and allow the rubber to separate. Finally, a biodegradable product was applied that foamed underneath the rubber, causing it to lift and float away.

To pull off this operation, the Prime BEEF team, made up of Air Force specialties such as plumbers; heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians; and electricians from different bases, bonded together as a runway maintenance team to time each application.

“This all starts with your teammates. I had an awesome crew who was willing to adapt and show me how to do this job,” said Senior Airman Charles Chambers, of the 577th EPBS, who is deployed from Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. “This has actually helped me grow as a person. With these people being from different places, you have to humble yourself, and I am glad I did. It helped me learn who they were and the traits they had, so that I could learn how to use equipment that I didn’t understand how to operate in the beginning.”

Once the rubber was removed, the 455th ECES applied paint mixed with reflective beads to the faded runway markings. This simple form of maintenance, once accomplished, can reduce the need for repainting by a year or more, and provide pilots with a clear runway picture when coming and going from Bagram Airfield.

To ensure all safety devices are serviceable and ready for use, Staff Sgt. Timothy Shearer and his 455th ECES team performed maintenance on the aircraft arresting cable system. The entire length of both cables, over 300 feet long, was extended and inspected for damage. Once they had trimmed off and replaced the portions in need of service, they had to make sure it was meticulously installed to demanding specifications.

These cables catch the jets in case of an emergency landing, making sure the aircraft lands safely, much like on an aircraft carrier, Shearer said, adding that they have to be the right length or the aircraft will be pulled to the side.

Throughout the transition of Bagram’s missions over the years, two things have remained constant -- airpower and maintenance. Lesley Ellis, the Bagram Airfield manager, has witnessed both of these firsthand during his 13 years in charge of the runway.

“We do about 24,000 missions monthly at Bagram. We do combat sorties and resupply for the units at forward operating bases in the area,” Ellis said. “I believe that we are the number one enduring air base in Afghanistan. We are the prime location for anti-terrorism efforts.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: "We talk about lining ourselves up with our sister services and joint efforts to make sure we accomplish our mission; the…
RT @AFResearchLab: The year is 1947. The @usairforce officially broke the sound barrier with the Bell X-1 aircraft. This incredible feat w…
RT @theF35JPO: Congratulations to the @AusAirForce for completing their #F35 training mission at @LukeAFB! 🇦🇺 ⚡ Learn more 🔗 https://t.co/2…
RT @CENTCOM: A French Rafale conducts nighttime air refueling with a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary…
RT @DeptofDefense: Jumping from a plane becomes a big step toward friendship. 301 soldiers and airmen from @USArmyReserve, @usairforce, and…
Explosive Disposal Ordnance (EOD) Airmen are often assigned to some of the most dangerous missions and perform tact… https://t.co/xYc9Ip5psn
Start this year by supporting your #Airmen in their pursuit of #resiliency. Learn about common triggers of invisibl… https://t.co/6gJSfJKvcK
RT @OHNationalGuard: The @180thFW hosted members of the Nigerian Air Force recently Officers visited the 180FW in search of #bestpractice
RT @HiAirGuard: Airmen from 154th Security Forces Squadron became first responders during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing perform maintenance on a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft in Szolnok, #Hung
RT @HQ_AFMC: The @AFResearchLab s X-60A program achieved a key developmental #milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsio…
RT @DeptofDefense: If you want to get there as fast as possible, don’t stop for gas. ⛽ That’s why the @usairforce relies on airmen like Tec…
RT @DeptofDefense: Press ▶️ to learn more about @USAFCENT, the command that provides air & space warfighting capabilities to help defeat v…
Airmen with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard provide support at the “tent cities” to support Task Force South and… https://t.co/zg2yT0LqpS
Even the most advanced aircraft in history requires extensive maintenance performed by Airmen on the ground to kee… https://t.co/Kpv8JlzYIc
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Throwback Thursday and #TankerThirstThursday are the same game. Throwing it back to last month when a KC-135 Stratotank…
If you thought the C-5M Super Galaxy was cool before, wait until you hear @RichardHammond describe it and its capab… https://t.co/jbYbdyHx5q
Air National Guardsmen from @105AW are on the ground in Puerto Rico with their counterpart, @PRNationalGuard, provi… https://t.co/ZwzhCEpWY4
RT @HAFB: Join us for the Hill Air Force Base 80th Anniversary Celebration from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hill Aerospace Museum! A nu…
Ranges are crucial to the training and readiness of our warfighters. Get an inside look at how they prepare to figh… https://t.co/i5CnbpBGAw