Barnes fighter jets participate in exercise Tuesday

The exercise was in partnership with the Eastern Air Defense Sector

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Fighter jets from Barnes Air National Guard Base conducted an air defense exercise Tuesday between the base and northern Vermont.

Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Brenda Hendricksen told 22News the exercise began Tuesday morning and lasted a couple hours. She said the exercise involved low-altitude flying and aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol.

F-15 Eagles flew low in the mountains of Vermont, training to intercept and shadow a light civilian plane operated by the Civil Air Patrol. The objective was to provide aircrews and other agencies that defend our Northeast Airspace training against any airborne threats.

104th Fighter Wing Commander Col. James Keefe told 22News, “It’s a little bit of a challenge when you’re in a big F-15 that you know likes to fly really fast, trying to slow down and intercept you know a small single engine civilian aircraft which is flying about a quarter the speed of the F-15, and we’re carrying a lot of fuel and ammunition. It’s pretty heavy and it’s tough to slow down, so a lot of techniques go into the pilots training on that, and it really is quite a challenge.”

The exercise was in partnership with the Eastern Air Defense Sector. The 104th is responsible for helping to protect a quarter of the nations population and one third of the Gross Domestic Product.