RASCAL restoring readiness, the Air Force way

  • Published
  • By L. Cunningham
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

A Rapid Assistance Support for Calibration unit arrived at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, May 6, 2019, to re-establish the base’s capability to calibrate equipment, which was lost in the flood.

RASCAL is a mobile Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory intended for use worldwide where PMEL capabilities are needed. It is one of only two in the Air Force that allows deployable PMEL capabilities.

The March flooding left Offutt’s PMEL with 5 ½ feet of water that destroyed the lab and the equipment it contained. The 55th Wing’s test measurement diagnostic equipment was shipped to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri and Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, to continue the wing’s mission while the RASCAL was in transit.

“This is the first full-package deployment of the Seymour Johnson RASCAL since it’s been restored,” said U.S Air Force Maj. Jeremiah Gottberg, 55th Maintenance Squadron commander. “This is a great opportunity to flex this Air Force capability and put it into action on a full-time basis in relief of a natural disaster.”

PMEL is responsible for calibrating electronic and physical dimensional test equipment in order to meet laboratory standards that are traceable to the National Institute of Standards. They are responsible for the repair and calibration of base equipment from torque wrenches to multi-complex Spectrum and Network Analyzers. The PMEL shop here repairs and calibrates 6,000 pieces of Test Measurement Diagnostic Equipment that support the 55 WG’s mission.

“The purpose of RASCAL is to take a basic PMEL and drop it anywhere in the world,” said U.S Air Force Master Sgt. Mason Lucas, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron, test measurement diagnostic equipment quality manager, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. “Providing instant calibration capabilities and rapid assistance to support calibration.”

The RASCAL, which consists of five tactical shelters, a transformer and a generator, was originally built in 1994. It arrived at Seymour Johnson in 2006 and has been deployed twice. In 2015 to 2018 the tactical shelters were updated.

The Seymour Johnson PMEL team worked in collaboration with Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where the only other RASCAL in the Air Force is housed, to ensure both units and their capabilities were up to standards and would also have the same equipment on board. It turned out to become a three-year restoration process to restore readiness capabilities.

The RASCAL not only has the ability for calibration specifications for aircraft maintenance, it calibrates equipment used by other units for carbon dioxide gas detectors, all their meters and clamp on amp meters,  firing pin protrusion gages and even weight scales.

“They were originally designed for contingency deployments,” said George Peny 4CMS, electronics technician. “It turns out this can be used not only for contingency, but for humanitarian conditions and natural disasters, it gives us broader range on when and where to use them, a bigger capability of usage besides strictly contingency”

Upon arrival at Offutt, it took five PMEL experts from Seymour Johnson 16 hours to set up and make it operational.

“It’s exciting to stand up the RASCAL capability at Offutt, it restores capability to the 55th Wing and it is an opportunity to validate the RASCAL’s proof of concept,” said Paul Hamel, 55th MXS PMEL site manager. “During this period of use, we will be able to capture any calibration shortfalls and recommend future equipment purchases and upgrades of the RASCAL, prior to use in an expeditionary or emergency location.”

Offutt’s PMEL will now be able to calibrate 75 to 80 percent of the equipment that they could calibrate before the flood with the remaining 20 to 25 percent being sent to other PMELs.

“This is a story of restoration,” said Lucas. “It’s just great to see all our hard work come to fruition and contribute to a severely degraded mission. This is what restoring readiness is all about.”