JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
The 621st Contingency Response Wing are applying their motto of “multi-capable” Airmen to their fleet of trucks in 2023.
The wing is scheduled to retrofit 48 trucks with several additional components to make them universally deployable for multiple career-fields and CR missions.
“This makes it the truck for the entire fleet, where no matter what truck you use, it can fit any mission,” said Tech Sgt. Rex Russell, 321st Contingency Response Squadron vehicle mechanic. “They say multi-capable Airmen, well we made a multi-capable truck that can fulfill multiple CR mission from one platform.”
The truck has new features for command and control, aircraft maintenance, ramp coordinators, aerial porters, aerospace ground equipment and power production Airmen.
The truck is currently in the testing phase and has been sent out on about six or seven exercises, including Joint Readiness Training Center exercise and exercise Twentynine Palms, Russell said.
The feedback has been positive with people asking for only minor adjustments on the current prototype so far.
“We have received some adjustments for the bed itself, as far as more lights and more tie downs on it, but everybody loves it!” Russell said.
Some of the truck’s new features include increased storage capacity and tie-down points, increased range for handheld radios and amplifier, laptop stands, power inverters, infrared and amber strobe lights, and a public address system.
All of these have huge implications for future CR missions.
“We put a public address system in it to use it for crowd control,” Russell said. “If you’re at an entry control point, you don’t need to get out of the vehicle to communicate with other people, increasing standoff distance for improvised explosive device threats. You can use it for lightning within five miles notifications, and other important announcements.”
The truck is also certified for secondary loads, making it capable of being used to store assets during transport on aircrafts, eliminating and opening more pallet positions for more cargo.
“We made it so you can use aircraft tie-downs on the rear of the truck, decreasing the load time by twenty percent,” Russell said. “Were always talking about lighter, leaner, lethal. I can remove two pallets from an aircraft, two less pallets to take off, means a faster load and unload time, and you get more space to take more equipment.”
Russell, who started working on this project four years ago, is compiling data and preparing the paperwork to officially begin moving into the production phase.
“We took all the data, and we’ve built a statement of work for a final contract to build the entire fleet,” Russell said. “Contracting will review it for final approval and send it out for bids. We will review the companies that place bids to ensure requirements are met and contracting will award it to start the process of getting them built.”
The project is estimated to cost $2.5 million, with contracts to produce the vehicles over a five-year period. The current trucks in inventory will be sent out to two contractors to install hardware and electronics for fleets on both west and east coast.
Getting to this point hasn’t been without obstacles. Russell lobbied for years for people to see his innovation, but now everyone is getting on board.
“Now that it’s finally built, and we have data and everybody has seen it in action, people see that it is beneficial and does a lot of stuff,” Russell said. “The CR is very supportive of innovation and ideas that can make the job better and the mission more capable.”
Leadership in the CRW innovation office are proud of Russell’s accomplishments and what he has achieved.
“Of all the 621 CRW's innovation projects, I am personally most impressed by the grass roots project by Tech. Sgt. Rex Russell,” said Maj. Jonathon Gebo, 621st CRW chief of innovation. “This is a project where an Airman with a good idea felt empowered to take action and to better our organization. In my opinion, this is what true innovation looks like!"