Air Force awarded 'best of best' for ozone sustainment

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The Air Force received the Best-of-the-Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for outstanding leadership in stratospheric ozone protection from the United Nations Environmental Programme and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The award was part of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol, considered as one of the most successful environmental treaties of all time.

Fully titled The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the international treaty is designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons and halons because these compounds significantly damage the stratospheric ozone layer. Today, 191 countries have signed the treaty.

As part of its worldwide leadership role, the Air Force led early government and industry efforts to identify alternatives for aviation halon applications. During the 1990s, the Air Force spent more than $500 million re-engineering processes, systems, and equipment at installations worldwide to eliminate over 96 percent of its original annual ozone depleting substance usage.

The Air Force kept purchases of new ozone depleting products to an absolute minimum, recovering existing halons from its decommissioned facility fire suppression systems and extinguishers to provide more than 80 percent of wartime and peacetime requirements.

"The Air Force has focused hard on the actions needed to reduce ozone depleting substances from our aircraft and installations, and our efforts have paid off," said Michael Aimone, the assistant deputy chief of staff for Logistics, at Installations and Mission Support, Headquarters Air Force.

The Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory also joined the Navy in receiving one of the team awards specifically for leadership in aviation halon replacement.

The award recognized the contribution the AFRL has made to aviation halon replacement fire suppression research and development. This scientific work made it possible for the Air Force and Navy to develop and field the world's first aircraft with a non-halon fire suppression system.