Making it look easy

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U.S. Air Force Airmen operate heavy machinery to clear debris away from a simulated damaged area created during rapid airfield damage repair training Sept, 15, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The new process cuts the repair times from repairing three craters in 4 hours to repair 18 in less than double that time.
U.S. Air Force Airmen operate heavy machinery to clear debris away from a simulated damaged area created during rapid airfield damage repair training Sept, 15, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The new process cuts the repair times from repairing three craters in 4 hours to repair 18 in less than double that time.

Making it look easy

by: Story and photo by Senior Airman Stephen G. Eigel | .
18th Wing PAO | .
published: September 19, 2016
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 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 (RADR) 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 old techniques.
 
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., selected Kadena 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, 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 the RADR training, Airmen clear the debris from the surface of the flightline using heavy equipment. Next, they cut a square around the damaged areas or craters with specialized saws, then the remaining concrete is removed. After the concrete is removed they fill the hole in with a low-strength concrete and finally cap it with a rapid-set hard concrete.
 
This 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. This means Airmen won’t have to return later to conduct maintenance on the same areas.
 
The previous method for repairing the flightline, known as rapid runway repair, was introduced in the late 1950s and became more 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 in-grained in the Air Force for around 50 years," Capt. Benjamin Carlson, Air Force Civil Engineer Center ADR 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."
 
The new process allows for six times the repairs with less than double the output.
 
Colonel Anthony Davit, AFCEC director of readiness, explained RADR allows teams to repair around 18 craters in roughly six and a half hours. We look forward to having these units take it back to their home stations, increasing the readiness of the Indo-Asia Pacific region.