Airmen from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron Aircraft Arresting System Depot completed an AAS certification with the Estonian Defence Forces at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, March 17, 2021. An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron conducted the test while Airmen from the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron removed the cable from the tailhook after the cable engagement, and recovered the aircraft. The Barrier Arresting Kit is certified annually to test the stability and effectiveness of the system, which acts as a braking mechanism to stop the aircraft in the event of an emergency that would prevent the aircraft from performing a standard landing.
The system consists of a thick metal cable attached to a flat nylon webbing, which is wound up around large metal drums housed in barrier shacks along each side of the runway. The drums allow the cable to spool out in a manner that slows the aircraft without yanking it to a stop, protecting the pilot and the aircraft from injury or damage. The 435th CTS AAS depot Airmen are responsible for the overhaul of all arresting systems in United States Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Africa Command.
“The certification is essentially a stress test for the system,” said Senior Airman Riley Kujawa, 435th CTS AAS Depot journeyman. “It allows us to ensure the proper functioning of all parts of the barrier in a controlled environment. Fighters usually hot taxi around 100 knots and drop the hook to simulate a real-world engagement. Afterwards, we collect data to ensure the barrier is working as intended.”
“The 48th has conducted this test for us in the past and it was very helpful that they were able to lend their aircraft to the task once again. We are very thankful,” said Brigadier General Rauno Sirk, Estonian Air Force commander.“
They frequently travel to work with allies and partner nations ensuring everyone is properly trained and capable of operating the barriers safely and effectively. During the test, the tailhook is dropped from the back of the aircraft as it fast taxis down the runway and catches the cable. The U.S. and Estonia are working on building interoperability across all domains. Opportunities to assist partner nations with tasks such as this is an important part of building and strengthening the relationships the U.S. has built with NATO allies and partner nations.