Building and repairing airfields, especially in remote areas that fuel distant operations, is key for keeping troops and gear flowing to the fight.

With that in mind, soldiers with the 27th Engineer Battalion’s 161st Engineering Support Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, recently air dropped a new rapidly deployable Airfield Damage Repair Kit.

The Airfield Damage Repair Kit will be used for repairing damaged airfields to prevent ingestion of foreign objects and debris into jet engines of aircraft, mitigating risk to both aircraft and personnel, according to a release from Fort Hood, Texas.

The Army, Air Force and Marine Corps all use a version of the ADR kit, which gives them the capability to repair airfields in austere environments, everything from rapid repair of small craters to fixing spalls, which are cracks and flakes in the airfield surface.

During testing, soldiers participate in rigging of the ADR Kit for airdrop and recovery to ensure the system is fully operational after each of the three required airdrops, according to the release.

Older kits were commonly stowed on the C-130 aircraft, but a shift in the use of newer C-17 Globemaster III aircraft required updating the legacy ADR systems, according to Army officials.

The damage repair kits are of considerable importance to the 82nd Airborne Division’s Global Response Force mission, according to the release.

But load outs of repair items for soldiers to fixed damaged runways isn’t the only option in the works.

At an April National Defense Industry Association Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference, Bobby Diltz, with Air Force Civil Engineer Command, discussed advancements in using robots to do some of that work.

When a runway is hit by enemy ordnance, airmen must do a damage assessment to check for unexploded items. That work can take hours — which means hours that aircraft are not taking off or landing.

Projects that pair robots and algorithms endeavor to cut down both the time and danger to troops for that part of the task, Diltz said at the conference.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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