A fighter aircraft declares an in-flight emergency. Nature of emergency — hydraulic failure. The pilot decides to land and take the aircraft arresting system, or what is referred to as the “barriers.”
On runways throughout the Air Force, an AAS emergency braking system is designed to bring any tail-hook equipped aircraft to a complete and safe stop in the event of an emergency. If the AAS is required during landing, the pilot drops the aircraft’s arresting hook (tail hook) to catch the arresting cable suspended above the runway surface. As the hook catches the cable, the aircraft continues its travel down the runway while the AAS hydraulic braking system is applied to approximately 175 pounds per square inch to slow the aircraft to a safe stop. Travel distance is allowed by the cable being attached to thick nylon tapes that unspool from storage reels from each of the AASs. Normal payout is at approximately 800-1200 feet.
Edwards Air Force Base in California has two BAK-12 arresting systems.
The 412th Civil Engineer Squadron recently completed the replacement of one of their AASs.
“Every BAK-12 AAS must undergo a complete system overhaul every 10 years,” said Murray Westley, 412th CES director.
AASs are overhauled by the 412th CES’s Civil Engineer Maintenance Inspection and Repair Team, or CEMIRT at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Westley said.
This past November, the 412th CES Power Production Element accomplished the installation of the newly overhauled AAS with the help of the 412th CES Heavy Repair Flight, Pavements Element along with technical assistance from CEMIRT experts Eric Brien and Jordan Myers.
According to Seth Lampa, 412th CES Power Production Element supervisor, “Replacing the barrier system requires a well-coordinated effort with multiple agencies and organizations on base and across the Air Force. We catch aircraft during in-flight emergencies — there is absolutely zero room for error or mistake.”
Upon completion of the barrier system, a certification event was completed Jan. 25 by engaging the AAS with an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 412th Operations Support Squadron.