The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) unveiled three new King Air 350ER aircraft for nuclear incident response at an event at Joint Base Andrews Dec. 18.
Equipped with specialized radiation detection systems, the new King Air 350ER aircraft will be used by NNSA’s Aerial Measuring System (AMS) teams to conduct measurements of air and ground contamination following a nuclear or radiological accident or incident and to conduct baseline surveys for normal levels of radiation in the environment in preparation for major public events.
DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Associate Administrator for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Jay A. Tilden, and Rep. Ron Estes (Kansas 4th District) delivered remarks at the event.
“AMS is a premier example of the critical work that NNSA does to make our nation and world safer,” Administrator Gordon-Hagerty said. “As part of its dual public safety and national security mission, AMS aircraft frequently support security preparations for high-profile events such as presidential inaugurations, the Super Bowl, Boston Marathon, and other major public events. Although these deployments are not well-known to the public, they’re part of a critical apparatus working behind the scenes to keep the American people safe.”
“The delivery of these aircraft will replace aging equipment to ensure the NNSA can respond to nuclear incidents,” said Congressman Estes (R-Kan.). “I’m especially proud that the hardworking employees at Kansas-based Textron Aviation were an essential part of fulfilling that goal. From general aviation to protecting national security, the significant impact of our community’s aerospace manufacturing industry continues to grow.”
The new aircraft replace aging assets and improve AMS’ reliability and range in providing rapid, wide-area assessments of radiological or nuclear events anywhere in the continental United States.
AMS is a key component of the Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST), which encompasses all DOE/NNSA nuclear incident response assets. Other elements within NEST include:
• Radiological Assistance Program (RAP), which provides assistance for incidents involving radioactive materials
• Accident Response Group (ARG), which responds to any accident involving a U.S. nuclear weapon
• The Joint Technical Operations Team and National Search Task Force, which respond to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) device missions.
• National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC), which provides real-time computer models showing the atmospheric transport of hazardous materials
• The DOE component of the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC), which responds to major radiological public health emergencies.