US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5, Colombia
US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5, Colombia

US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5, Colombia

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 474th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron completed an install and certification of a mobile aircraft arresting system prior to the commencement of Exercise Relampago VI on a shared runway with CACOM 5 and Jose Maria Cordova International Airport, July 9. The first ever MAAS install and certification at CACOM 5 is critical to maintaining mission readiness for ensuring safe fighter aircraft diverts to a runway. The MAAS is a BAK-12 system that is made mobile with the trailers containing hydraulic tools and hardware designed to be implemented quickly in expeditionary or contingency locations that don’t feature more permanent infrastructure.

US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5,  Colombia
Staff Sgt. Robert Kelly, 474th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron electrical power production journeyman, directs equipment in as he makes final adjustment to the placement of the Mobile Aircraft Arresting System (MAAS). (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Emili Koonce)

Should a fighter aircraft need to use the system, the MAAS acts as a barrier used to catch the arresting hook in case of a malfunction during takeoff or landing. The installation involved a multi-capable team from different specialty fields and units from across the Air Force often working during nighttime hours to avoid disrupting the flying pattern of the commercial airspace. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Kelly, 474th EOSS electrical power production journeyman, described the endeavor as a learning experience for him and the entire team to be in place in a foreign country learning to work together.

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US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5,  Colombia
U.S. Airmen assigned to the 474th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron perform last-minute inspections prior to a mobile aircraft arresting system certification test at Comando Aereo de Combate Number 5 (CACOM 5) in Rionegro, Colombia, July 7, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez)

“It’s all about cohesion,” said Kelly. “Everybody has their skillset and that really sets us apart. We adjusted and adapted to the situation, and we succeeded and learned a lot from it.”

“Our engineers had to use quite a bit of ingenuity developing multiple plans, working with the airport authorities, overcoming the terrain, to be able to get to the solutions so we can conduct this exercise and train with our partners,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William McDowell, 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and 474th EOSS commander. “We’ve had to adjust, adapt and overcome so we can achieve a mission.”

US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5,  Colombia
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs a mobile aircraft arresting system certification test prior to Exercise Relampago VI at Comando Aereo de Combate Number 5 (CACOM 5) in Rionegro, Colombia, July 7, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez)

The original idea of mobile systems was to support fighters returning from missions to battle-damaged airfields. The WT44/SM semi-mobile solution for the service of a number of known and site-prepared alternative runways and the MAAS fully mobile self-contained system based on trailers with USAF standard brakes for rapid installation on a range of different surfaces. “MAAS” is an US Air Force acronym for “Mobile Aircraft Arresting System”. The BAK-12 slows down the aircraft by using modified B-52 Bliss Brakes on either side of the runway connected by a rope running across the runway. It is basically a standard BAK-12 aircraft arresting system made mobile through installation on a MAAS trailer. The ability to be installed in multiple configurations on several different surface types makes the MAAS a flexible system.

US Air Force 474th EOSS Airmen Complete MAAS Install at Comando Aereo de Combat Number 5, Colombia
Exercise Relampago VI provides joint training and improves readiness of U.S. and partner nation military personnel through interoperability training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez)
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