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Rapidly repairing the runway

Airman 1st Class Tyler Parker, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron heavy equipment journeyman, sweeps up the debris left after filling in a spall on the runway during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018.

Airman 1st Class Tyler Parker, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron heavy equipment journeyman, sweeps up the debris left after filling in a spall on the runway during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018. The ECES members fix defects found on the runway and repair them to ensure combat operations can continue without damaging the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

Senior Airman Charles Nelson, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement and heavy equipment journeyman, uses water to enable Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg, 380th ECES pavement equipment journeyman, to cut a portion of the runway with a saw during runway repair at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018.

Senior Airman Charles Nelson, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement and heavy equipment journeyman, uses water to enable Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg, 380th ECES pavement equipment journeyman, to cut a portion of the runway with a saw during runway repair at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018. The Dirt Boys maintain and repair ADAB’s runway aircraft operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

Airman 1st Class Tyler Parker and Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg uses the sweeper to remove debris caused during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018.

Airman 1st Class Tyler Parker and Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg uses the sweeper to remove debris caused during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018. They inspect the airfield to find any possible defects and determine the most critical areas to be fixed first. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement equipment journeymen Senior Airman Michael Horan (left) and Airman 1st Class Kalvontae Smith (right), smoothens the cement around the repaired area while Senior Airman Charles Nelson pours more into the hole during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018.

380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement equipment journeymen Senior Airman Michael Horan (left) and Airman 1st Class Kalvontae Smith (right), smoothens the cement around the repaired area while Senior Airman Charles Nelson pours more into the hole during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018. The repair team generally consists of five members in the positions of operating the water truck, airfield sweeper, and the actual pavement restoration. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement equipment journeymen Senior Airman Michael Horan (middle) sweeps debris while Airman 1st Class Kalvontae Smith (right), dumps it into the airfield sweeper during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018.

380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement equipment journeymen Senior Airman Michael Horan (middle) sweeps debris while Airman 1st Class Kalvontae Smith (right), dumps it into the airfield sweeper during runway repairs at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018. The repair team generally consist of five members in the positions of operating the water truck, airfield sweeper, and the actual pavement restoration. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

Senior Airman Charles Nelson (left) and Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg (middle) watches as Airman 1st Class Tyler Parker (right) seals the repaired runway area at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018.

Senior Airman Charles Nelson (left) and Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg (middle) watches as Airman 1st Class Tyler Parker (right) seals the repaired runway area at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1, 2018. One of the biggest threats to aircraft is foreign object damage which the Dirt Boyz help prevent by repairing defects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United arab Emirates --

The runway is vital to mission operations at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. It enables various aircraft to take-off and land in support of a host of missions. Through time and exposure from multiple aircraft landings, cracks and holes will appear on the runway.  

In order to keep this runway operational, the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement equipment shop performs rapid runway repairs.

“The overall runway health is very important to the Air Force mission,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse Steinberg, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron pavement equipment journeyman. “From the fighter jets putting bombs on targets, to heavy aircraft supporting re-supply sorties, our job is to provide a safe runway. Our aircraft have a high tempo which requires us to inspect and repair the constant stress applied to the airfield. We take pride in performing our small part in the Air Force mission.”

One of the biggest threats to aircraft is foreign object damage. FOD occurs when small objects enters the aircraft’s engine during start up. By performing repairs, these ECES specialists, referred to as “Dirt Boyz,” prevent aircraft mishaps enabling combat operations.

“The Dirt Boys provide support to both DoD and Host Nation missions by consistently maintaining and repairing ADABs 3,800 acre airfield,” said Senior Master Sgt. Katherine Hardy, 380th Expeditionary Operational Support Squadron airfield manager. “We have been successful in closing Runway 31L seven times during this rotation, allowing the Dirt Boys to repair 21 spalls, which aided in 8,036 aircraft operations. Host nation Civil Engineering has observed the skills possessed by the current airfield pavements team and has requested training to learn rapid airfield damage repair techniques to enable the capability to effectively maintain their airfield surfaces the future.”

“Our job allows us to positively support the mission as it unfolds,” said Steinberg. “I love being part of a team that confronts challenges directly. We're able to precisely and expediently provide multi-levels of support.”

 

The repair team generally consists of five members in the positions of operating the water truck, airfield sweeper, and the actual pavement restoration. They begin by doing an airfield inspection to find any possible defects and determine the most critical areas to be fixed first.

 

“Our team is ready to respond at a moment's notice,” said Steinberg. “We currently are repairing 10 - 15 spalls per month.

 

When we get out there, the pavement is cut around the defect and then the area is jackhammered,” added Steinberg. “After that, the hole is cleaned out, the rapid-set material is mixed and placed in the hole. The material is leveled and smoothed out inside of the hole. Once it sets up, we may have to route joints and seal them, depending on spall location. Then the area is cleaned up and good to go.”

 

The team is another key component to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, enabling the mission of delivering decisive airpower and standing ready to defend the region against any adversary. 

 

“I want to recognize and say thank you to our airfield repair team,” added Steinberg. “They are highly motivated and always give 100 percent. Their efforts produce a safe working environment, and a professional product of airfield repair excellence.”