‘Dirt Boyz’ assist in F-35A testingBy Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE
The “Dirt Boyz” of the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron are always on the go; during the summer, they help maintain infrastructure around the base and in the winter they ensure Eielson’s airfield is free of snow and ice.
They have an extra job to do this winter, which is to help ensure the F-35A Lightning II is prepared for cold weather conditions.
“We at CE have to make sure the runway is free of snow and ice every day,” said Timothy Hardman, the 354th CES work leader. “Once that is done, we create ice on the flight line so the F-35 can test.”
The F-35A was here to be certified to operate on an icy runway, and although it may seem easy in the Alaskan environment, it’s not that simple.
“The reason we have to create the ice is because it has to be set to a specific RCR [runway condition reading],” said Hardman. “We provide the F-35 team with the controlled environment needed to perform its testing.”
The RCR scale is based on how wet and dry each runway is. RCR 23 is considered a dry runway while RCR 5 is compared to landing on ice. The testing for the F-35A was designed to certify the aircraft, which is presently capable of landing at an RCR 12, is able to land at an RCR of 7.