Wings join forces to test Ramstein F-16 hydrazine response capabilities

Maj. Jessica Nichol86th Airlift Wing Exercises and Inspections

***image1***If an F-16 is hurtling across the sky, one of the last things anyone wants to happen is for the electrical systems to fail. In the off chance that it does, however, the fighter plane uses an emergency power unit to supply primary electrical and hydraulic power.

Hydrazine is used as fuel by the EPU for this purpose and the exposure potential is greatest for those servicing the EPU and related equipment, so those handling it want to do it quickly and carefully.

So on Monday the 86th and 435th Wing Exercise and Inspections offices conducted a validation of the 86th Maintenance Group’s newest capability, a hydrazine response team designed to handle F-16 inflight emergencies.

“This was a monumental effort that involved numerous base agencies from the wing command post, airfield management, civil engineering, maintenance and operations,” said Lt. Col. Kurt Raffetto, 86th Airlift Wing Exercises and Inspections chief.

The exercise stemmed from a shortfall in November 2006 when an   F-16 landed at Ramstein and runway operations were suspended for more than five hours.

The overall intent of the exercise was to confirm that Ramstein had enough immediate response capability to “safe” and remove a fighter aircraft from runways and taxiways. 

To prepare, six fuels specialists from the 86th MXG traveled to Spangdahlem for training from their 52nd Fighter Wing counterparts.

According to Colonel Raffetto, using the new system will allow the normally busy airfield to remain open with minimal impact to flying operations in the event of a hydrazine emergency. 

“This new capability allows the maintenance team to clear the runway within 30 minutes in the event an F-16 arrives with an EPU activation,” he said. “It will limit any possible delays to inbound aircraft possibly carrying wounded warriors from downrange that require medical care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.”