Barnes jets and personnel headed to Malaysia for training

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 100 military personnel from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield are on the way to Malaysia to take part in a training mission with the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

The 104th Fighter Wing announced Monday that members of the wing began deploying to Malaysia on Saturday, with F-15 jets leaving Barnes on Tuesday morning. American F-22 Raptors, and Malaysian Mig-29 and Su-27 aircraft will also be involved in the exercise, which is called COPE TAUFAN.

“We were asked to participate in this exercise because of our proficiency with Advance Fighter Integration,” said Col. James Keefe, Wing Commander for the 104th.

Just a couple months ago, Barnes personnel were involved in a training exercise in Hawaii, where they trained on the F-22s that they will be using in Malaysia.

“The 104th Fighter Wing’s involvement in this exercise speaks volumes to the relevance of this unit in the global theater,” Keefe said.

Keefe said he hopes to achieve two goals after the three week training; “Just the logistics itself, that’s a good part of the training. Second part is to actually work with a foreign country. If we had to deploy somewhere in the Pacific, this would be the country we’d be deployed to and work with if there was combat operation.”

Col. Keefe told 22News anchor Laura Hutchinson that the training should last for about a month’s time. This mission to Malaysia is the farthest that the 104th has traveled for a training exercise.

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