ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. --
The 177th Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) installed an expeditionary aircraft arrestor system on the base’s runway Sept. 4, 2020.
The aircraft arrestor system is made to ensure that military aircraft are able to stop safely during a landing roll or a no-go during high speed takeoff, using steel wire ropes strewn across a runway, designed to be caught by an aircraft's tail hook.
“It’s a safety net for a pilot, made so they can land safely,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Natalia Rojas, the deputy base civil engineer of the 177th Civil Engineer Squadron. “It’s a necessary piece of equipment because you’re safeguarding a multimillion dollar aircraft.”
The difference between a regular aircraft arrestor system and an expeditionary arrestor system, is that normal systems are made to be permanent, while expeditionary systems are designed to be installed or uninstalled in hours.
“The official name for this project is the ‘1331 Overhaul’,” said Staff Sgt. Kristofer A. Flores, an electrical power production specialist from the 177th Fighter Wing CES.
The ‘1331’ represents the two ends of the runway, as runways are numbered according to compass bearings, with ‘13’ being 130 degrees, and ‘31’ being 310 degrees.
The 177th CES had work to do on the Wing’s initial arrestor system, but it couldn’t be done without having a backup plan for the 177th Fighter Wing’s pilots.
“The South Jersey Transportation Authority managed the construction project through a Military Construction Cooperative Agreement with the 177th, and awarded a contract to A.E. Stone, with West Bay Construction, Inc. as their subcontractor, to come and replace the energy absorbers on both ends,” said Rojas. “We had to get an expeditionary aircraft arrestor barrier installed so that our jets still had a failsafe. If there were any malfunctions with the aircraft, or they needed a safety net, we needed that installed before the construction.”
With such a large task, the 177th CES didn’t do this job alone.
“For this project, some of the different Airmen we worked with came from Minot, Rhode Island, McGuire and Fort Indiantown Gap,” said Flores.
The 177th CES was appreciative of every Airman who lent a hand for this project, but they were especially thankful to the Guardsmen from the 201st Red Horse unit.
“With the installation of the Expeditionary unit, we had help from members of Fort Indiantown Gap, the 201st Red Horse unit,” said Rojas. “It was three individuals, led by Senior Master Sgt. Ronald Huntzinger, who were the subject matter experts on how to install one of these expeditionary units.”
Rojas made it clear that the expeditionary aircraft arrestor system is not a simple machine, despite its simple-looking function.
“It’s a pretty intricate piece of equipment,” said Rojas. “It looks pretty simple, but once you talk to our power pro guys, they can get into so many details on what each little component does and in the grand scheme of things, how it protects our aircraft.”
When it comes to breaking expectations and building the future, look no further than the 177th Fighter Wing’s Civil Engineer Squadron.