Incirlik CDDAR team provides fast response

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristan Campbell
  • 39th Air Base Wing, Public Affairs

When it comes to downed aircraft at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, one team within the 39th Maintenance Squadron stands ready to handle aircraft emergencies anytime, anywhere.

The 39th MXS Crash Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery (CDDAR) team hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst in any situation.

“An in-flight emergency can happen at any time,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Elliot, 39th Maintenance Squadron CDDAR shift lead. “When CDDAR gets called in, our job is to put together a game plan, determine what to bring, and begin the recovery process.”

CDDAR and the big picture

Incirlik AB is sometimes referred to as the “tip of the spear” due to its large role in operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  The installation is an important staging and support area for many joint U.S. and NATO aircraft entering and exiting the region.

Without the CDDAR team’s capability to effectively recover aircraft, Incirlik’s role in Operation Inherent Resolve would not be possible.

“We have aircraft here that are consistently out in combat,” said Tech Sgt. Russell Dugan, 39th MXS CDDAR section chief. “If the jet doesn’t take off, it can’t support troops on the ground. It could greatly slow down close air support provided by aircraft like the A-10s if they are unable to take off from the runway, because it isn’t clear.”

The faster CDDAR can clear the runway, the faster the base can resume flying operations, Elliot said.

Likewise, many aircraft in addition to the A-10 Thunderbolt II benefit from CDDAR’s assistance. Playing host to a large variety of joint military and civilian aircraft from all over the world requires a team of highly trained and skilled experts.

"If other aircraft like the KC-135 [Stratotankers] can’t get out to refuel other aircraft, they could start running low on fuel and it could lead to more in-flight emergencies,” Dugan said. “That’s where we come in, and how we impact the mission.”

Within the past year, the CDDAR team cleared the airfield of 56 in-flight emergencies, enabling over 365 sorties that were a part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

CDDAR: Recovery role

“We keep our equipment ready for all different types of aircraft,” Elliot said. “It’s common for us to use slings, hoists, tractors…that kind of gear to lift the airplane up and tow it away.”

Of course, catching aircraft is no easy task, since each emergency is unique. The team relies on technical orders, their experiences and sound judgement to meet their objectives.

“No matter what your experience is, depending on the situation with the aircraft, you might be able to use what you’ve learned from a previous incident,” Dugan said. “I also wouldn’t be able to go to another incident and think the next one is going to be the same.”

From safely lifting airframes to retrieving aircraft that have ventured off the runway, equipment such as lifting air bags, pneumatic manifolds, air compressors and towing vehicles are readily available for any emergency.

(Editor’s note: See next week’s article on how the CDDAR team has put their knowledge and expertise into practice in response to three aircraft emergencies this year.)