ALPENA, Mich. –
Flying units training at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) can approach the runway with confidence knowing the base’s two aircraft arresting systems, designed to catch aircraft with tail hooks, were recently replaced by a group of Michigan Air National Guard (MIANG) engineers.
The systems, known as the BAK-12, were replaced by power production Airmen from the Alpena CRTC and the 110th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) from Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.
“The BAK-12 is the braking system that is on both sides of the runway, '' said Tech. Sgt. Jordan Chatman, 110th CES noncommissioned officer in charge of power production. “It essentially helps a pilot and aircraft safely come to a halt during an in-flight emergency.”
The arresting systems here are the only of their kind in the state and they are critical given the training missions of the Alpena CRTC and the National All-Domain Warfighting Center. This investment in the base’s infrastructure helps to ensure the Alpena CRCT is an attractive training location.
“The installation of the new BAK-12 barrier cables gives our airfield the ability to host numerous fighter aircraft annually for training in Michigan’s special use airspace,” said Air Force Col. James M. Rossi, Alpena CRTC commander. “The BAK-12 system ensures our airfield is safe for use by fighter aircraft and is vital to mitigating risk to both pilots and aircraft that may experience an emergency landing or aborted takeoff conditions.”
At over 17,000 square miles, the Alpena Airspace Complex is the largest over-land airspace in the eastern United States. This easily accessible, consistently available airspace offers users a predictable and reliable training environment. The diverse surface topography, including coastlines, cities, and rural areas offer options for a multitude of training scenarios.
According to Master Sgt. Justin Smith, Alpena CRTC electrical power production superintendent, the system is replaced every 10 years and it has only been used 8 times in that timespan. He also said removing, inspecting, and replacing all of the parts can take up to two weeks and costs approximately $1 million.
“We are going to be pulling out the fairlead beams and the BAK-12,” said Smith. “Then we will chip away the grout bed, inspect all the bolts, and install new BAK-12s and beams that were overhauled by the National Guard Bureau.”
Since the maintenance only occurs once a decade, the 110th CES power production shop used it as an opportunity to get valuable training that prepares the power production Airmen for any deployment in the future as a Prime Base Emergency Engineer Force (BEEF).
“In an expeditionary environment we have mobile aircraft arresting systems, which is essentially the same thing we have here but on a trailer,” said Chatman. “Any maintenance here will carry over to that equipment, so we are able to support our Prime BEEF mission.”
The Alpena CRTC, operated by the MIANG, provides premier support, facilities, instruction, and airspace to DoD, Department of Homeland Security, coalition partners, and emergency responders to meet mission requirements of combatant commanders and civil authorities.