DE&S have delivered essential equipment to the Falkland Islands as part of the UK Government’s support to the Overseas Territories during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the organisation, Air Separation Units (ASUs), used previously to generate oxygen for Royal Air Force aircrew on Tornado and Hercules from the 1990s to around 2016, were identified by aircraft engineering specialists as a potential oxygen production source for coronavirus patients.
“Working with the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) and RAF personnel, the machines were sourced, repurposed to hospital-grade standard and then quickly deployed to the Falkland Islands. The equipment is now up and running on a de-commissioned liquid oxygen production compound at RAF Mount Pleasant, where liquid oxygen is produced ready for transfer by road to King Edward Memorial Hospital.”
Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin said:
“Repurposing parts originally destined for fighter jets demonstrates the versatility of what our military can offer our partners in the Overseas Territories: Air Separation Units having been turned into life-saving oxygen machines.”
Mark Taylor, Operations Manager, AES Air Commodities Team, said:
“The RAF has a number of ASUs, which are used to generate oxygen for aircrew operating at high altitude. The Airfield Engineering Support Team recognised that these units can be adapted to produce oxygen for COVID-19 patients. The ASUs have limited operational usage since newer aircraft generate their own oxygen for crews to breathe at high altitude. Therefore, the spare capacity was made available to support other functions, in this case the King Edward Memorial Hospital, which doesn’t have its own oxygen generation capability.”
A C-17 Globemaster from RAF Brize Norton transferred 20 tonnes of specialised apparatus including the ASUs in April. Two days later, an RAF A400M transferred additional ancillary equipment and personnel who will assist in the installation and maintenance of the ASUs.
The final shipment was for 50 oxygen cylinders, which were flown to the Falkland Islands on a scheduled service.