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ACBRN Gets an Upgrade: Travis Air Force Base Rolls Out M69 Masks to Aircrew

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mark Kim, 60th OSS aircrew flight equipment technician, wearing the new M69 Joint Service Aircrew Mask Strategic Aircraft assembly. Credit: Nicholas Pilch

U.S. Airmen from the 60th Operations Support Squadron began rolling out the new M69 Joint Service Aircrew Mask Strategic Aircraft (JSAM SA) assembly at Travis Air Force Base, California this fall.

The M69 JSAM SA assembly is the Air Force’s next generation Aircrew Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (ACBRN) mask. At Travis, the mask is currently approved for flight on the C-17 Globemaster III, KC-10 Extender and for use by all aeromedical evacuation members, according to the 60th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE) office.

“This equipment is light-years ahead of the legacy Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection (AERP) equipment. Previously, it would take crew members at least 10 minutes to fully dress out in ACBRN gear,” said Tech. Sgt. Conner Odom, 60th OSS noncommissioned officer in charge of the chemical defense section. “The new M69 mask closely resembles the fit and feel of the M50 ground chem mask, a familiar system with which we have all trained for years.”

During an emergency, aircrew are able to put on their M69 mask in about 10 seconds, be fully dressed in two minutes, and if necessary, connected to aircraft oxygen within five seconds after, according to Odom.

The previous equipment required a ten-step process which included connecting and disconnecting multiple hoses to be able to breathe oxygen from the aircraft and took far more time than the new system, according to Odom.

“With the M69 mask, it is no longer necessary to connect to oxygen unless there is loss of cabin pressure or smoke and fumes in-flight,” said Odom. “In a CBRN environment, there isn’t going to be a lot of time to react and put on equipment—especially in an aircraft.”

Testing for the new equipment began in Dec. of 2016, and the AFE office believes the M69 mask will be the reason why lives are protected and saved.

“A few years ago, at my previous assignment, I took part in some of the field testing of the M69 system with the same USAF CBRN team that came to Travis AFB this year to officially distribute the final M69 system for use,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Reamer, 60th OSS assistant NCOIC of the chemical defense section. “It’s really cool to be a part of a generational advancement and to receive positive feedback from the aircrew members who we’ve trained and outfitted with the M69 mask.”

On Travis AFB, the 60th OSS AFE office is training aircrew to properly use the M69 mask. As part of the process, the masks are individually fit for each aircrew member and members receive training on use and wear.

Source: Adapted by CBRNE Central from story by Nicholas Pilch, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

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