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.
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.
“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.”
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.