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January 30, 2013

USAF deploys new runway rubber removal system

The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed a newly developed runway rubber removal system at its 379th Air Expeditionary Wing airfield in south-west Asia.

rubber removal system

The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed a newly developed runway rubber removal system at its 379th Air Expeditionary Wing airfield in south-west Asia.

Manufactured jointly by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the system is designed to effectively clear rubber build-up that possesses potential risk to aircraft landing in austere airfields.

Representing the first C-130 Hercules deployable rubber removal system, the device includes two systems; the first uses a detergent to dissolve rubber from the runway prior to rinsing, while the second is an ultra-high pressure water system, the retrofitted Unimog.

The retrofitted Unimog features a TracJet attachment that puts out 36,000lb/in² of water pressure from the cleaning head to remove rubber and a vacuum system for the removal of debris and excess water.

US Air Force Central Command A7 captain Kathryn Miles said the retrofitted Unimog proves to be advantageous for airfield managers with busy runways.

"The system is designed to effectively clear rubber build-up that possesses potential risk to aircraft landing."

"The detergent process requires a six-hour uninterrupted runway closure. The Unimog, on the other hand, can be used between take-offs and landings and still effectively remove rubber," Miles added.

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Despite flexibility, the ultra-high pressure water system is not designed to replace the detergent process, and instead will act as a supplement to it, according to Miles.

"The detergent method is capable of removing 60,000 square feet of rubber in about six hours while the ultra-high pressure water system could probably only remove about 10,000 square feet of rubber in the same amount of time."

Personnel from the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group, 577th Expeditionary Prime BEEF Squadron and 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron conducted two-week training of the system in operation and maintenance on any airfield in the US Central Command area of responsibility.


Image: The retrofitted Unimog with a TracJet attachment takes off rubber from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing airfield in south-west Asia. Photo courtesy of US Air Force photo / Senior Airman Joel Mease.

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