The 86th Maintenance Squadron hosted a joint exercise for Estonian and Lithuanian partners to establish Crashed Damaged Disabled Aircraft Recovery capabilities at Ramstein Air Base, March 6-19.
Air Advisors from the 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron facilitated the visit from the Estonian and Lithuanian air forces with the 86th MXS personnel.
The joint exercise marked the first time NATO allies participated in the training usually conducted three times a year for 86 MXS Airmen.
The training, which included Estonian and Lithuanian air force firefighters, focused on properly storing, inspecting, maintaining, and operating CDDAR equipment.
“The most important part of the course is safety,” said Estonian air force Senior Sgt. Tauri Mikki, firefighter. “We are here to learn how to use the equipment safely and execute strategies to hoist and move aircraft in any situation.”
Participants used air consoles, tow ropes, slings, tethering lines, airbags, and an air compressor to lift the aircraft off the ground.
“The most challenging part of the exercise has been training with equipment we are not familiar with,” said Mikki. “It’s been interesting to learn new things.”
The training concluded with the three participating countries lifting a G-222 aircraft off the flight line.
Throughout the exercise, training leads looked for proper and safe usage of all equipment. Participants were expected to overcome obstacles like equipment issues by using each other and working as a team.
“The main thing we’re looking for is that they minimize additional damage and maximize the safety of themselves and the equipment and the plane they rescue,” said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Hughes, 86th MXS repair and reclamation non-commissioned officer in charge.
Exercising CDDAR capabilities prepares Airmen to recover aircraft without secondary damage. Whether an aircraft runs off the runway or crashes, units can respond with proper equipment to either gather necessary parts or pull the aircraft back to the runway for maintainers to fix.
“It doesn’t matter if the aircraft is large or heavy,” said Tino Weichel, 86 MXS crash recovery team chief, “the principles are the same for the most part, so it’s necessary that we train together to establish a basic level of knowledge among our allies.”