Radiant Falcon sharpens decontamination procedures

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Viviam Chiu
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

A diverse group of Airmen from various jobs - aircrew flight equipment; petroleum, oil, and lubricant; bioenvironmental; emergency management; and aircraft maintenance - stand ready, tools in hand to safely regenerate and relaunch a KC-135 Stratotanker. The aircraft was affected by a simulated nuclear fallout plume during an exercise, and it’s the team gathered to ensure the aircraft’s mission will continue.

The 100th Air Refueling Wing partnered with the Department of Defense-contracted Alliance Solutions Group to conduct exercise Radiant Falcon at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, May 20 to 23.

The three-day course kicked off with classroom lessons about health and safety procedures explaining the recovery of an aircraft potentially contaminated with radiation.

Radiant Falcon was introduced in 2020 within the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command. The course is now being implemented across bases under U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa’s command, and ensures Airmen are ready to receive aircraft affected by chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats, and perform decontamination safety techniques.

“We learned general safety practices and surveyed the aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Lauren Atchely, 48th Fighter Wing bioenvironmental engineering technician. “I liked that the lead instructors knew so much and directed us on how to perform procedures the right way.”

On the second day, Airmen practiced responding to a contaminated aircraft during a simulation. Airmen practiced using a variety of tools to ensure the safety of the aircraft and aircrew, including an ADM-300 survey meter device that gauges radiation levels during radiological contamination detection and decontamination scenarios.

“This is a cross-functional exercise where different players have a different role to play,” said Bob Campbell, lead Radiant Falcon instructor.

Airmen with the bioenvironmental team performed exposure management and surveyed the aircraft; emergency managers established a decontamination center at the radiation control point; aircrew flight equipment technicians processed the aircrew off the KC-135; POL technicians refueled the tanker; and maintainers who marshaled the jet performed health and safety inspections to relaunch it.

“We want to keep all the ground crew involved in responding to and recovering the KC-135 safely,” said Campbell. “We want to keep the radiation levels below hazardous levels while regenerating the aircraft and relaunching it as soon as possible to continue the mission.”

On the third day, Airmen visited the 352nd Special Operations Wing to learn more about CV-22 Ospreys. Additionally, the instructors met with U.S. Air Force Col. Ryan Garlow, 100th Air Refueling Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Tiffany Griego, 100 ARW command chief, to discuss the context of the event as well as its outcome.

According to Campbell, these exercises are a deterrent and preparedness element that ensure Airmen are ready to decontaminate aircraft affected by nuclear radiation.

“If a situation like this ever does happen, Airmen are ready to receive the aircraft and continue the mission,” said Campbell.