News>Barrier maintainers support NATO Baltic air policing mission
LITHUANIA AIR FORCE AIR BASE, Lithuania – Chief Master Sgt. Scott Cornell, 435th Construction and Training Squadron chief enlisted manager, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, uses a hydraulic jack hammer to drive post used to anchor a mobile aircraft arresting system into the ground. The barrier maintenance team attempted to pull the posts out of the ground, but some were too stuck in the frozen ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)
LITHUANIA AIR FORCE AIR BASE, Lithuania – Staff Sgt. Brian Splaine, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron barrier maintenance craftsman, wraps a chain around a post used to anchor a mobile aircraft arresting unit for removal on Jan. 5. Sergeant Splaine is deployed to the 493rd EFS at Lithuania Air Force Air Base, Lithuania from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in support of the NATO Baltic air policing mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)
by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
1/7/2011 - LITHUANIA AIR FORCE AIR BASE, Lithuania -- When an aircraft loses its capability to brake due to a system failure, there is only one thing saving the pilot and their aircraft from crashing off the end of a runway. That one thing is an aircraft arresting system.
Luckily for the aircrafts and pilots of the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, their barrier maintainers are on the job.
"In the USAF, having runways with cables are an absolutely essential capability anywhere in the world we fly fighter aircraft," said Col. William Lewis, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander.
The barrier maintenance team deployed to the 493rd EFS at Lithuania Air Force Air Base, Lithuania from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Aug. 18, 2010, to set up aircraft arresting systems in support of the NATO Baltic air policing mission, a mission to provide air sovereignty to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, and has been supporting them ever since.
"It is important to the mission, because we are primarily responsible for saving a multi-million dollar aircraft and most importantly the pilot's life," said Tech. Sgt. Paul Dolores, 493rd EFS electrical power productions technician. "Our primary mission is here air policing - without aircraft arresting systems, planes don't fly."
The barrier maintenance team, which is responsible for deploying and installing generator systems and mobile aircraft arresting systems in deployed locations, was relentless in their commitment to the Baltic air policing mission despite adverse conditions.
"The weather conditions have been truly daunting... subzero temperatures and snow drifts six-to-eight feet high have made their work extremely difficult," Colonel Lewis explained.
One of issues brought on by the weather is the aircraft arresting systems, which have to ready 24/7 in case jets have to be scrambled, have to be removed from the runways for snow removal operations.
"It's a constant battle," Sergeant Dolores said. "It snowed almost every day for the whole month of December."
"We had to do lots of shoveling," he added.
Despite Mother Nature throwing her best at them, the barrier maintenance team continued to shine.
"Their professionalism, expertise and dedication have been one of the foundations of this deployment," Colonel Lewis said. "The 48th FW deployment for Baltic Air Policing would not have been possible without our incredible barrier maintenance team."