F-35 maintenance crews test working with CBRN protective gear

U.S. Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter maintenance crews recently practiced their duties while wearing Mission Oriented Protective Posture suites designed to keep them safe during a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.

Members of the F-35 Integrated Task Force gathered critical data on the practicality of performing routine maintenance tasks while wearing a CBRN suit, boots and mask. Personnel tried and tested a variety of configurations of MOPP suits that included gas masks, flak vests and helmets.

"As a team we were very happy with the maintainability of the F-35 while wearing the chemical gear. We really didn't run into any restrictions," Technical Sgt. Shawn Whittemore said. "The team had a great attitude toward this testing and was very motivated to get through it. We realized the importance of proving the ability to perform this type of maintenance for the eventual war fighter."

Whittemore is the test team leader for the 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He works alongside a team consisting of 14 members, including contractors and civilians.

"This testing was the basis to prove the F-35 weapon system is effectively and efficiently supportable in a combat environment," Mary Parker, the test force's deputy director of logistics, said. "There will be subsequent testing to include weapons loading activities as well as repairs to the aircraft's low-observable characteristics."