104th Fighter Wing travels to Malaysia

barnes pilots departing

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)–The F-15 fighter jets from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield have taken off to a training mission in Malaysia. 22News was there as the pilots as they prepared for their 12,000 mile-long trip.

Tuesday morning, the first wave of the F-15 fighter jets took off from Barnes Air National Guard base in Westfield for a unique training mission taking place in Malaysia.

This 12,000 mile long trip will have the f-15 fighter jets in the air for a total of nearly 24 hours. The trip being broken into in three, eight hour flights during which the fighter jets will be refueled mid-flight, three to four times, by KC-135s and KC-10s from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

The re-fueling procedure is something Col. Alex Haldopoulus says helps keep your focus on such a long flight.

“So being able to fly up within 10 to 15 feet of a very large airplane and take gas from it it never boring and so that breaks up the monotony,” Col. Haldopoulus said.

Vice Wing Commander Col. Ken Lambrich told 22News that while training with the Royal Malaysian Air Force the pilots will get to work in combat simulations with Soviet built fighter jets, similar to types of aircrafts the U.S. may face in true combat situations.

“One air craft versus one aircraft in a close in visual flight so you need a threat representative aircraft to get a true honing is of your skills,” Col. Lambrich said.

More than 100 members of the 104th fighter wing including maintenance security and communications personnel are involved in the mission that took eight months to prepare for.

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