PACAF civil engineers improve airfield repair skills

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephen G. Eigel
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Civil engineer squadrons from Kadena, Yokota and Misawa Air Bases teamed up here with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center to conduct training for the new Rapid Airfield Damage Repair technique Sept. 12-15.

Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations have highlighted a need for better methods to quickly and effectively establish or improve airfields. Craters, spalls and other conditions that limit airfield use can create costly delays not adequately resolved by older repair techniques.

The AFCEC, located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, selected Kadena AB as a test base for the RADR program because of its key location in the Pacific.

"This is a significant step forward that provides new capabilities in addition to traditional rapid runway repair," said Master Sgt. Matthew Novack, the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron section chief of requirements and optimization. "This is the first time we have been able to conduct operations like this on an active runway in more than a decade."

During RADR training, Airmen cleared debris from the surface of the flightline using heavy equipment. Next, they cut a square around the damaged areas with specialized saws, then removed the remaining concrete. After the concrete is removed the holes are filled with a low-strength concrete and capped with a rapid-set hard concrete.

The process can be done quickly in combat situations so airfield operations can resume. It’s estimated that 3,000 aircraft of any size or weight can pass over the restored area without causing degradation to the runway.

The new process allows for six times the repairs with less than double the output.

The previous method for repairing flightlines, known as rapid runway repair, was introduced in the late 1950s and was refined in the 1960s. This operation allowed engineers to repair three large craters formed from 750-pound bombs within four hours after damage was made.

"(Rapid runway repair) was a way that was ingrained in the Air Force for around 50 years," Capt. Benjamin Carlson, the AFCEC Airfield Damage Repair officer in charge said in a previous article. "This is a new way of doing things that is more beneficial and cuts down on repair times."

Col. Anthony Davit, the AFCEC director of readiness, said RADR allows teams to repair around 18 craters in roughly 6 ½ hours. He said he is looking forward to having these units take the new process back to their home stations, increasing the readiness of the Indo-Asia Pacific region.