PRIME BEEF removes rubber from AFCENT runways

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Heaton
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The runway at the Al Dhafra Air Base has a clean surface, thanks to a team of visiting Airmen who spent about two weeks working nights to remove rubber built up on the cement.

Airmen from the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or PRIME BEEF, Squadron were recently at Al Dhafra getting the job done. The PRIME BEEF Airmen are based at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and spent the late fall making the rounds to bases in the Air Forces Central Command region, treating runways.

As aircraft land, rubber from the tires are left on the runway. Eventually, that rubber can build up and could create a potentially slippery landing surface for future air operations.

“Airfield Management and the local Civil Engineers make periodic airfield assessments,” explained Tech. Skylar Shepard, noncommissioned officer in charge of the rubber removal team. “When they determine the rubber build-up reaches a certain level, we get the call.”

The team applies an environmentally-friendly chemical to the runway and then mixes that with water. Using large brushes attached to the front of utility vehicles, the team agitates the chemical-water mixture. Eventually, the fire department provides an assist by spraying the runway clean with a fresh blast of water. The team works primarily at night, when air traffic volumes are typically lower, though the team coordinates closely with local operators to ensure mission readiness is not compromised.

It takes about two weeks for the 6-person team to perform the task on a single runway, said Tech. Sgt. Josh Krug, another member of the team. 

“Then we move on to the next base,” Krug said. “Because we’re working at night, most people never even know we were here.”