By Defense Nuclear Weapons School Public Affairs, 150th Special Operations Wing
/ Published October 15, 2020
A member of the 210th RED HORSE team (left) welds a wheel caster in July while another member looks on. The wheel caster aided in the transport of the UH-1 helicopter airframe pictured in the background. The airframe was relocated to the DNWS training site on base to be used as a training aid. Members spent a couple of weeks fabricating the casters provided by DNWS and rotated throughout the project to acquire metal cutting, welding and fabrication skills. Photo by Matt Thompson, DNWS
Members of the New Mexico Air National Guard 210th RED HORSE Squadron use a crane and flatbed trailer in April to relocate a modified HH-60 helicopter airframe and training aid from the 58th Training Squadron’s aircraft yard to the DNWS training site on Kirtland AFB. The HH-60 airframe move is one of many projects that the RED HORSE Airmen are performing for DNWS, most of which are done in between other missions. Photo by Matt Thompson, DNWS
Airmen from the New Mexico Air National Guard’s 210ᵗʰ RED HORSE Squadron at Kirtland AFB, N.M. are
providing support to the Defense Nuclear Weapon School while receiving valuable training as they
work. In the fall of 2019, members of DNWS started to work with the 210ᵗʰ RED HORSE Squadron and
the 58ᵗʰ Training Squadron to help relocate air frame training aids to a DNWS training site on
base. Eager to get valuable training hours on their heavy equipment, it wasn’t until the RED HORSE
team found time in between other missions to make the ‘big’ moves happen for the schoolhouse.
“Some personnel even came to work on their days off to see these airframes safely moved,” said Col.
George R. Farfour, DNWS commandant. “This isn’t just a ‘win-win’ for the organizations working on
these projects. This is a ‘win’ for the hundreds of joint service, multi- national, and interagency
students DNWS typically sees in a year who will learn about contamination monitoring on these
Using their heavy crane, flat bed trailers, and in some cases all terrain forklifts, the RED HORSE
team was able to plan and carefully execute safe moves for each of the large training aids. The
equipment moves demonstrate to other commands on base that this important heavy-lift capability is
locally available to them. More important is the timely renewal of critical skills the RED HORSE
Airmen are getting on the heavy equipment.
“Getting hands-on heavy equipment training while solving real-world problems is a huge benefit to
RED HORSE, especially in preparing for our upcoming overseas deployment," said Lt. Col. James C.
Willis, commander of the 210ᵗʰ RED HORSE Squadron.
Matt Thompson, DNWS historian, says that with the training aids in place, students will practice
contamination monitoring techniques that were employed by military responders and aircrew during
Operation TOMODACHI in 2011 - the humanitarian effort that provided relief to Japan after a tsunami
damaged the nuclear power plant there. “Of particular interest to the students are aircraft
engines because of their tendency to collect and concentrate even minute amounts of contamination
found in the air,” he said. “A C-130 transport aircraft engine provided by the 58ᵗʰ TRS will serve
as one of those training aids, as well as be a great addition to the UH- 1 helicopter airframe
Once the UH-1 helicopter airframe was unloaded at the DNWS training area, the RED HORSE team and
the DTRA Albuquerque motor pool team developed a method of using forklifts and short slings to move
the single ton airframe short distances.
“The UH-1 training aid presented a unique challenge,” Thompson said. “It rested on skids and would
require wheels to make it less dependent on heavy equipment for movement. Original ground handling
wheels would have cost tens of thousands of dollars and were quickly rejected as an option.”
DNWS training specialists then developed a caster wheel design that could be fabricated for a
fraction of the cost.
“To get these caster wheel assemblies built, one of the DNWS training buildings was turned into a
fabrication shop by the RED HORSE team,” Willis said. “Over the next few weeks,
the DNWS team provided all of the material, hardware, cutting and welding supplies needed for
the project. Many hours of cutting, hand fitting, welding and grinding were then conducted by our
RED HORSE Airmen.”
This allowed the RED HORSE team to rotate personnel so everyone could practice steel fabrication
skills that will be needed in future deployments. Willis says his Airmen are ready and willing to
support anywhere they can, and that he’s particularly pleased to assist the schoolhouse.
"Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to benefit from several DNWS courses, and it is the
best training I've had in the military,” Willis said. “The 210 RED HORSE is delighted to
help out DNWS in any way we can."