Australian-Made Shelter Protects Munitions from the Harsh Middle Eastern Environment
2 February 2016
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Combat Support Unit Airfield Engineering Section and Base Armament Management personnel have constructed an Australian-made fabric shelter to protect munitions from the harsh environmental conditions of the Middle Eastern desert.
The shelter, designed and built in Lake Cargelligo, NSW, is the first of its kind to be used in the Middle East and it is constructed using four shipping containers for the foundation.
Each container is filled with around eleven tons of concrete to ensure it can withstand heavy winds.
Airfield Engineer, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Jarrod Koch was on-hand to observe the completion of the project by the outgoing rotation of Combat Support Unit personnel, which was led by FLTLT Thomas Weir.
Flight Lieutenant Koch said as far as he was aware of this is the first time this Australian-made shelter has been used on an Australian Defence Force deployment.
"This shelter replaces the interim solution which was shade cloth and netting over the top of the munitions whilst the more permanent shelter solution was on order," he said.
"The shelter provides increased stability and durability of the structure as well as additional useable space and height.
"The added height allows for all kinds of manual handling equipment – forklifts and the like - to be used under the shelter, which makes a huge difference in the environmental conditions experienced by the Armament Technicians."
After the need for a more robust structure was identified, Combat Support Unit Airfield Engineer FLTLT Weir conducted a scoping study and market research to identify possible solutions.
An Australian-made fabric shelter proved to be the best solution for use by the Air Task Group at its main air operating base in the Middle East.
The shelter was ordered and delivered to RAAF Base Richmond's No. 65 Squadron where the components were checked and then re-packed for air-transport.
Once received in-country, the Combat Support Unit's Airfield Engineering Section, with assistance from Combat Support Unit Base Armament personnel, took only four days to assemble the shelter.
Flight Lieutenant Koch said that it wasn't all smooth sailing for the construction team, as challenges cropped up along the way.
"The sheer distance between the Australian manufacturer and the location here in the Middle East provided an assortment of logistical challenges to be overcome," Flight Lieutenant Koch said.
"There were also limited cranes and work platforms available, so other solutions had to be found to allow the team to work at heights while maintaining a safe work environment.
"Finally, the extreme hot and humid conditions meant outdoor physical work like this was immensely draining on the installation team and required additional resources and careful management.
"In the end it was a combination of excellent work by all manner of personnel to get such a great outcome."
The Combat Support Unit is deployed in support of the Australian Air Task Group contributing to the international coalition to disrupt and degrade Daesh in Iraq and Syria.