Exercise protects RCAF personnel and aircraft from CBRN threats


RCAF Exercise PHOENIX DEFENDER, was held recently to improve CAF response to a chemical, biological, radiological  or nuclear (CBRN) threat at a busy military airfield, using computer triggered alarms.

This first simulated CBRN defence exercise for 2 Wing Air Expeditionary Squadron (2 AES), held at 3 Wing Bagotville.

Team players

Representatives from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) in Suffield, Alta., the Directorate of CBRN Defence, and the Materiel group (DCSEM 5), based in Ottawa, were on hand to support the three-week exercise, since this was much more than simply a skills-enhancing event. DRDC scientists gathered information about how biological agent sensors respond to common airfield contaminants, information that will be useful for future biological threat detection research. The CBRN Defence and Materiel teams were keen to demonstrate the integration of sensor output and other data using the CAF’s world-leading CBRN information management system.

Setting the scene

The scenario was simple: CAF personnel were deployed to a host nation as part of NATO-mandated international coalition. The squadron’s CBRN section was to set up chemical and biological detection equipment at the host nation’s airport as part of the CBRN defence plan.

Exercise participants deployed the CAF’s Vital Point biological agent sensor (VP Bio Sentry), and two fixed-site chemical agent detectors, at the threshold of Bagotville’s east‑west runway. The sensors and their GPS information were integrated with the CAF’s Sensor Integration and Decision Support (SI&DS) information management system, along with weather information, to generate a real-time, predicted contamination zone. The SI&DS software included a CBRN warning and reporting tool and the joint effects model software.

Sensors Used

The VP Bio Sentry, the principal sensor used in the exercise, sends an alarm in the presence of airborne organic agents. The alarm initiates a sampling process that allows an operator to identify the agent, using a separate analysis system, within an hour after the alarm. Meanwhile, alarms from multiple sensors are analyzed by the SI&DS system and converted into a predictive plot, which allows the local commander to understand the extent, direction and timing of the threat. The identification of the particular agents allows the commander to make a decision on any necessary protective measures.

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