WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla --
The 137th Special Operations Wing received eight aircraft shelters for the flight line here recently, providing shelter for the MC-12Ws and the Airmen who work with them.
As new members of AFSOC, the shelters, or sunshades, will help protect some of the most important aspects of the new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission – the Airmen and the aircraft they work with.
“The sunshades are a modified Quonset galvanized steel frame with a fabric cover,” said project coordinator Lt. Col. Tom Current, 137 Special Operations Mission Support Group deputy commander. “They are sized to allow the aircraft to taxi through in lieu of being towed in and out, designed to withstand a 105 mph wind, remain rust-free, and last 15 years under warranty, but more realistically more than 20 years.”
The project was a result of an end-of-year funding in September 2016 that had the shelters ordered, shipped and constructed by the end of December of the same year.
“It was a quick process and it went very well because of the positive relationship we have established with Guard Bureau and the relationship we are establishing with the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command,” said Current. “It reaffirmed to me how much the AFSOC community helps each other out.”
Totaling $440,000, the shelters will save future dollars and hours spent on upgrades and maintenance on both the aircraft and the shelters. The fabric sunshades were chosen over all-metal models based on the price and overall longevity, especially considering the extreme nature of Oklahoma weather.
“These shelters were less than half the price of the metal ones and are probably more durable in weather conditions like hail,” said Current. “If the hail is hard enough to punch through a metal roof then it would probably break through the fabric one too. But if it’s not that hard, it will just bounce off of the fabric one, without a dent. We’d have to replace the metal roof on the other ones.”
The shelters are identical to the shelters found at other AFSOC bases and those downrange, some of which withstood hurricane Dennis. They can withstand up to 120 mph winds, surpassing the Oklahoma design requirement by 15 mph.
They can also drop the temperature in the cockpit by more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is especially beneficial during Oklahoma’s 100-plus-degrees summers.
“It’s already going to be hot in there because of the electronics in the aircraft,” said Current. “So it will help both the equipment and the flyers.”
Finally, Current credits the Wing’s reputation for making the quick turnaround of the project such a success, he said.
“When we (the 137 SOW) get something, we use it, and we do exactly what we say we’re going to do when we get it,” he said.