SWANTON, Ohio --
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing and 200th RED HORSE Squadron worked together for a Crashed Damaged/Disabled Aircraft Recovery training event April 23-24, 2022, in Swanton, Ohio.
"CDDAR training consists of both classroom and hands-on training that allows Airmen to practice alternate aircraft lifting and towing procedures," said Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Axe, a phase maintenance dock chief assigned to the 180FW. "This includes lifting an aircraft with inflatable lift bags, hoisting with a sling and crane, pulling an aircraft that may be stuck, and performing composite material recovery and mitigation."
CDDAR is a crucial capability and enables Airmen to respond to aircraft emergencies when needed. Though the RED HORSE, a self-sufficient, highly mobile, rapidly deployable civil engineering response force, is a separate squadron located in Port Clinton, Ohio, joint training exercises build partnerships and ensure Airmen are ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
"If a pilot declares an inflight emergency, the CDDAR team assembles and prepares to handle the emergency once the aircraft is on the ground," Axe said. "This could include something as simple as towing the aircraft back to the flightline once he lands safely, or in the worst-case scenario, responding to a crashed aircraft. In the event of an in-flight emergency, the long, loud siren on base is activated. That is the indicator that lets everyone know there is an emergency and lets the CDDAR team know to assemble."
The team is made up of Airmen from across the maintenance group, including electricians, egress, weapons, avionics, aerospace ground equipment, engine shop, quality assurance and more.
"The team is a mix of specialized and diverse skillsets, ready and able to respond to any aircraft recovery scenario," said Axe. "There are currently seventeen primary team members and sixteen augmentee members."
Realistic training relies on various groups working together, ensuring they are ready to respond to a real-world scenario if an aircraft crashes or becomes disabled.
"Exercising CDDAR capabilities prepares Airmen to recover aircraft effectively, allowing flying operations to resume as quickly as possible," Axe said. "In addition, it is the CDDAR teams’ responsibility to preserve evidence of the incident if an investigation is needed. It is important that as the aircraft recovery operation progresses, any evidence of what might have caused the incident is preserved. Preservation of the crash site aids the investigation team in determining what happened and may help prevent other similar incidents."
During the two-day training event, Airmen successfully recovered an F-16 Fighting Falcon and an F-84 legacy aircraft, used to introduce variety.
"The training was great for us as well as the RED HORSE," said Axe. "We were able to develop critical skillsets and build cooperation in the event of a real-world operation. We met all the goals we set for the training event.”