Just enough, just in time: AFCEC targets rapid airfield repair solution

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center laboratory at Tyndall Air Force Base is on a mission to repair battle-damaged runways as quickly as possible, with minimal materials, manpower and equipment.

For the past three years, lab experts have been perfecting the technology, equipment and processes to deliver a capability called expedient and expeditionary airfield damage repair, or E-ADR.

“E-ADR is like a mini version of rapid airfield damage recovery,” said Dr. Bobby Diltz, AFCEC Airfield Damage Recovery Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program manager. “RADR is a proven method for recovering airfields after an attack, but it requires a few dozen vehicles, Airmen and pre-positioned materials.”

E-ADR is for scenarios that don’t have the required manpower, equipment and materials RADR needs, Diltz said.

The agility of a quick and easy runway repair solution was on full display during a recent joint capability technology demonstration operational utility assessment hosted by the Tyndall AFB Silver Flag Testing Facility and was the first of several planned demos. The three-day event late last year brought together airfield damage recovery teams from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force to demonstrate E-ADR advancements.

Florida Airmen from both Hurlburt Field and Tyndall AFB participated in the event, overseen by Diltz and led by Tech. Sgt. Chad Parnell, E-ADR crater chief. Participants performed three types of pavement-repair technologies and followed processes that reduced typical material demands to fix a crater by about 90%.

“These are uniformed Airmen, so this is no longer the lab technicians or people that have done this process,” Diltz said. “This is the real deal.”

While still in the planning phase, eventually E-ADR will be a physical kit containing materials, equipment and guidance for techniques and procedures.

“It’s exciting to watch the progress and demonstrations of this capability,” said Craig Mellerski, AFCEC Requirements, R&E and Acquisitions Division chief. “The CE lab continues to provide new capabilities to our engineers and E-ADR is one of many contributions to fill existing and future needs.”

One of the biggest benefits to airfield repair teams is the logistics requirement, said Greg Cummings, AFCEC readiness expeditionary and engineering lead. Moving from having staged equipment and materials for use at a location just in case, to watching for signs of a possible attack and delivering the minimal materials and equipment that may be necessary, he said.

The second physical E-ADR demonstration is planned next month at McEntire Air National Guard Base, South Carolina, followed by the final phase, the military user assessment, or MUA. This, along with metrics put in place by Diltz’s team at the CE lab, will determine if the project is considered successful.

The simplified list of requirements that will need to be met to satisfy the MUA involve 500 passes by any Air Force fighter aircraft on the repaired pavement, 24-36 hours to complete 18 craters and, when totaled, the material and equipment required for the task can fit on four C-130 Hercules.

“All of the tests, the demo at Tyndall (AFB) and the MUA, are in support of getting this kit in the hands of our customers,” Diltz said. “It’s our job to give them the tools, resources and support they need to keep the Air Force in flight.

operating a compact track loader

Tech. Sgt. Chard Parnell, crater chief, uses a compact track loader to help fill a crater with concrete rocks – the stone-and-grout technology method – during the third day of repair of the expedient and expeditionary airfield damage repair demonstration at the Silver Flag Testing Facility on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in December 2020. The demo was the first of several planned events as part of a joint capability technology demonstration to bring together airfield damage recovery teams from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force to demonstrate E-ADR advancements. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Ford)

Airmen fill a test airfield crater

Airmen from both Hurlburt Field and Tyndall Air Force Base use the stone-and-grout technique to form a cementitious cap to close out the third day of the expedient and expeditionary airfield damage repair demonstration at the Tyndall AFB, Fla. Silver Flag Testing Facility in December 2020. The demo was the first of several planned events as part of a joint capability technology demonstration to bring together airfield damage recovery teams from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force to demonstrate E-ADR advancements. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Ford)

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