The US Army and Air Force recently conducted a series of trainings in Israel with engineers from the Israeli Air Force to test new runway damage repair technologies.
During the sessions, American engineers trained their Israeli counterparts to install and maintain Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) mats and anchoring systems meant to quickly recover airfields after combat damage.
FRB is a material that, “typically consists of strong fibers embedded in a resin matrix.” Equipment made out of this material is non-conductive, non-corrosive, and extremely lightweight and is often used in aircraft, ships, cars, and chemical processing equipment.
Significance of the Tests
The testing and training sessions marked the first time FRP kits were used in the large crater configuration during live-flight operations and the first time F-35s were used to test the kits.
For Web Floyd from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, seeing the fighter operating on the mat for the first time was a “career-defining moment.” He has been working on the technology since 2014.
The training team performed 30 successful aircraft operations, including taxi maneuvers and acceleration and deceleration testing with maximum braking.
Staff Sgt. Jared Swan, a Silver Flag instructor with the 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, expressed his belief that FRP is “the future of ‘expedient’ runway repair and agile combat support” and that using FRP could “potentially save an incredible amount of time.”
The joint activity also included live-flight testing by Israeli Air Force F-15 and F-35 pilots.