041213 - 104th Fighter Wing passes no-notice NORAD Inspection with highest possible grade

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The 104th Fighter Wing successfully passed the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) no-notice Alert Force Evaluation on 11 April 2013 with the highest possible grade -- the BarnesStormers are ' Mission Ready'.

Without notice, members of the NORAD Inspector General Team arrived on base Thursday April 10, prepared to test the wing's ability to defend the Northeast airspace. With a well-coordinated set of scenarios, the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) scrambled the units' F-15 aircraft to find an aircraft flying in Northeastern New York that was simulating an unidentified aircraft orbiting in a controlled airspace. The aircraft was rapidly located by the Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15s; quickly completing the first evaluation scenario. Immediately after the first event, the F-15 aircraft were then tasked to find a second aircraft in Southeastern Massachusetts that was simulating a hijacked aircraft. The unit responded quickly and efficiently, and perfectly completed that second scenario.

"The 104th Fighter Wing demonstrated again, that it is one of the premiere units in the Combat Air Force," said Col. James J. Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "Many of the Wing's alert processes were identified by the inspectors as 'Best Seen' and they are recommending them to be implemented at the various alert forces under NORADs control."

During the two-day inspection, the NORAD staff evaluated the alert aircraft maintenance section, the security forces section, the command and control element and the alert operations; all demonstrated the highest degree of preparation and ability to protect the homeland.

At the conclusion of the inspection, the team chief, Lt. Col. Drexel Sherman, stated that without question, Barnes is among the very best Alert Sites he had ever inspected. The inspection report lauded the Command and Control section for their enhanced situational awareness and the Maintenance Section for their meticulously maintained aircraft. In addition the alert pilots were noted as having executed their procedures perfectly, while the Security Forces Squadron was lauded for their responsiveness during the alert scramble.

"Maintaining a highly responsive alert force takes a team effort," said Col. Keefe. "This inspection evaluated just one of our missions here at Barnes, but the grade reflects the unit's total effort to being well trained and prepared to accept any challenge it faces."