Losses and Aviation Safety

USAF C-17 aircrew tests New Chemical Warfare Gear specifically tailored for aircrew aboard aircraft that don’t feature ejection seats

The M69 Joint Service Aircrew Mask for Strategic Aircraft assembly will replace the Mask Breath Unit-19P Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protec¬tion equipment.

Airmen from the 445th Operations Support Squadron’s aircrew flight equipment (AFE) shop and 89th Airlift Squadron participated in a field testing and training event for the M69 Joint Service Aircrew Mask for Strategic Aircraft (JSAM SA) assembly, the new aircrew flying chem gear on Jun. 5-9, 2023 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), Ohio.

As told by Stacy Vaughn, 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, in the article 445th OSS tests new protective mask suited for wing C-17 aircrew, the M69 JSAM SA assembly will replace the Mask Breath Unit-19P Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection (AERP) equipment. It is currently approved for all fixed-wing, non-ejection seat, non-pressure breathing large frame aircraft, such as the C-17 Globemaster III.

The old Mask Breath Unit-19P Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection (AERP) was no favorite among Airmen, as one C-17 pilot told to Air & Space Forces Magazine. “It’s like flying a plane while wearing a thick garbage bag over your entire body. It’s hot, fogs up, is a major situational awareness drainer and in my opinion incredibly unsafe to use in flight.”

When the new masks arrived, they were unpacked with each one carefully inspected for defects or dam-age before being added to the inventory list.

Members with Headquarters Aircrew Flight Equip¬ment and Air Force Life Cycle Management CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) Defense Systems from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Mary-land participated with the 445th AFE for the equipment inspection and provided the training.

Tech. Sgt. Brett Schindler, 445th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment lead trainer, demonstrates how to don the new M69 Joint Service Aircrew Mask Strategic Aircraft (JSAM SA) with guidance from Bryan McCoy, a US Air Force Aircrew Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (ACBRN) fielding coordinator, during a briefing and demonstration given to 89th Airlift Squadron aircrew members, June 7, 2023.

Officials say the M69 is cooler to wear, less bulky, and has a better field of vision. It’s also much easier to put on. Tech Sgt. Conner Odom, of the 60th Operational Support Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif, explained to Air & Space Forces Magazine that aircrew can spend 10 minutes wrestling their way into the old full-body AERP, but it takes just 10 seconds to don the new M69 mask and only two minutes to put on the full suit. “In a CBRN environment, there isn’t going to be a lot of time to react,” Odom said, so speed is crucial.

The deputy program executive officer for the AFLCMC Agile Combat Support Directorate, Col. Carlos Qui-nones, was on hand to see how the inspection process works and understand the new assembly in comparison to the cur¬rent MBU-19P AERP, as the six divisions under his directorate provide materiel solutions, acquisition life cycle management and support equipment, among many other functions, to meet Air Force opera¬tional needs.

Master Sgt. Diego Cancino, 445th Operations Support Squadron AFE flight chief, gave high re¬marks about the new equipment compared to the current equipment being used.

“The new mask system is a breath of fresh air for both AFE as the equipment maintainers and aircrew as the end user,” Cancino said. Our old legacy system, while proven effective, was beginning to show some age, and we felt that we were overdue an update.”

Bryan McCoy, a US Air Force Aircrew CBRN fielding coordinator from Aberdeen provided training to 445th AFE Airmen and gave a presentation and demonstration to 89th AS aircrew members (pilot and loadmaster). The purpose was to share information and answer questions that aircrew members might have about M69 JSAM-SA.

The AFE shop will be individually fitting each aircrew member with the M69 mask and providing training on use and wear.

US Air Force Senior Airman Mark Kim, 60th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, models the new M69 Joint Service Aircrew Mask Strategic Aircraft assembly at Travis Air Force Base, California, Nov. 2, 2022. 

“The cooperation between all members of the community has been great throughout the program and it’s no surprise that the program continues to succeed and set a new standard with system deployment,” said 1st Lt. Gunnar Kral, lead engineer for Joint Aircrew CBRN Protection, within the Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch, in a Wright-Patterson news release. “Currently, 20,273 masks have been fielded and the program is projected to complete Air Force fielding ahead of schedule.”

The program continues securing additional airworthiness clearances and fielding the system to the aviation community.

“Our team will continue to support the fielding of this system by working with aircraft SPOs to ensure that the M69 receives airworthiness clearance on other aircraft and to solve any integration challenges that arise,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Rossi, a Joint Aircrew CBRN Protection Engineer with the Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch. “The program is scheduled to reach Full Operation Capability in 2024.”

Photo credit: Nicholas Pilch and Stacy Vaughn / U.S. Air Force

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. C-17A Globemaster III 60th Air Mobility Wing / 349th Air Mobility Wing, 21st Airlift Squadron, 06-6160 – Travis AFB, CA
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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