Nearly a year ago, in the midst of pandemic, a team composed of representatives of more than a dozen military and civilian organizations responded to a Joint Urgent Operational Need request, issued by U.S. Transportation Command, to develop equipment and procedures to enable the high-capacity airlift of COVID-19 patients on mobility aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules, while maintaining the health and readiness of aeromedical personnel and aircrews.
The result was the rapid, and novel, solution of transforming existing 40-foot CONEX containers into air-mobile biocontainment isolation wards – the Negatively Pressured CONEX; and designing and fabricating a similar new 30-foot aluminum container for use on C-130 aircraft, the Negative Pressure CONEX-Light.
The endeavor needed to succeed quickly to maintain air mobility readiness. In an exemplary feat of coordination and teamwork, led by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center partnered with the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Air Mobility Command and other military and civilian partners, these systems went from concept to operations in less than 100 days.
To date, nine NPCs and six NPCLs are positioned strategically around the world having flown 37 missions, across five geographic commands, carrying 267 U.S. military, civilian, dependent and contractor COVID-19 patients with no confirmed cases of infection spreading to air or aeromedical crews in flight. Another six NPCs and four NPCLs are being stored in ready status.
See the Negative for COVID-19 video here.