The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) Air Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Systems Branch has delivered the Negatively Pressurized Conex (NPC) isolation container prototype to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.
This prototype will be tested for potential use as a transport module. It will be utilised to move individuals infected with coronavirus (Covid-19) and other infectious diseases.
The branch of AFLCMC has partnered with the Joint Program Executive Office for CBRN Defense, along with other organisations across the US Department of Defense (DOD) and academia.
The container was designed in response to the US Transportation Command’s Joint Urgent Operational Need.
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Design and fabrication of the NPC prototype was awarded to UTS Systems, Highland Engineering and Delta Flight Products, through an other transactional authority contract.
The prototype testing cost valued $2m, with the team managing to deliver it within 13 days after the contract was awarded.
The tests are scheduled for 30 April. Following positive test results, Ustranscom and Air Mobility Command leadership will procure the NPC and begin the delivery of the first systems by the end of May.
Designed to fit inside a C-17 Globemaster III, the container ensures the safe transportation of 28 patients both ambulatory and litter. It will also accommodate teams of medical professionals and equipment.
NPC programme manager Captain Alexis Todaro said: “The goal of the NPC is to help us keep infectious organisms contained, in order to prevent the aircrew, and medical professionals on board the aircraft from being exposed.
“The container is negatively pressurised; fans are continuously pulling the air from within the unit through high-efficiency particulate filters to prevent any exposure to the aircraft.”
Attached to the container is an anteroom that will provide medical professionals with a safe area to move in or out of their medical equipment.
NPC programme test lead Captain Kerollous Marzouk said: “We acquired one system (NPC prototype), and will put it through a series of tests to make sure it contains bio-organisms, meets the needs of the aeromedical evacuation teams and that it’s safe to fly on the C-17.
“After we can provide those three things, we will provide this information to leadership for a procurement decision.”