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F-15s return to flight

Barnes F-15 #476 tests the new arresting system. Later it performed the first functional test flight at Barnes on 21 Feb, 2008 ( Photo by Capt Matthew Mutti)

Barnes F-15 #476 tests the new arresting system. Later it performed the first functional test flight at Barnes on 21 Feb, 2008 ( Photo by Capt Matthew Mutti)

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- The 104th Fighter Wing located at Barnes Air National has successfully completed tests on its new BAK-12/14 aircraft arresting system.

The arresting system is one of the many safety systems in-place for the wing to begin flying their new F-15 aircraft. The BAK-12/14 is a cabling system that will aid in stopping the aircraft in the event of an emergency during either take-offs or landings.

After a seven month wait, the aircraft from the 104th will again grace the skies of Western Massachusetts. The aircraft arresting system test was the final step to ensuring the base was prepared to fly its new aircraft.

"This system provides an additional layer of safety to the pilots," said Lt Col William Kelly, a long-time Westfield resident and Base Civil Engineer. "Our civil engineers in partnership with the Air National Guard Civil Engineering Technical Service Center located in Minot North Dakota and Barbato Construction Company, a Massachusetts civilian contractor, labored tirelessly for the last 2-weeks in order to install the system in time to begin flying."

With the arresting system installed the unit will begin flying functional check flights on the aircraft before they are used for training missions. The first check flight will occur today.

"The check-flight program allows us to ensure all flight systems are working properly before the aircraft is flown during training flights," said Lt. Col Thom Kelly, the 131st Fighter Squadron commander. "Safety is always our highest priority, both for the pilots and the support personnel."

In order to test the systems, the functional test flights require the use of afterburners during takeoffs, but once the check-flights are complete, the pilots will perform non-afterburner takeoffs.

"This is an important step for the 104th Fighter Wing", stated Brig. Gen. Scott Rice, acting wing commander. "As we continue the transition to the Air Sovereignty Alert mission, the 104th Fighter Wing will be a crucial part of the North American Air Defense System. The unit is progressing with safety as its highest priority and I am confident in the skills of our members to excel as we begin flying."

This marks the seventh aircraft conversion in the 104th Fighter Wing's 60 year history. The unit will begin its flying program slowly and gradually increase its number of daily flights over the next few months. It will gradually attain its normal flying schedule of two flying periods a day, one in the morning and one in the early afternoon.

There will be a media opportunity on February 29th at 9:30 a.m. Coordination for the event must be made through Capt Mutti prior to the event.