Complications in landing and takeoff can happen to anyone at anytime.
For Capt. Tim Riley, a pilot with the 480th Fighter Squadron, it happened while stationed in Osan Air Base, Korea.
“I had brake failure,” said Riley. “I didn’t have enough gas to circle the runway.”
Luckily for Riley, Osan AB was equipped with a barrier arresting kit system. Without it, his aircraft would have been unable to stop.
The BAK-12 system is installed on every U.S. Air Forces in Europe base that has jets and on divert bases like Ramstein.
When a pilot experiences complications for landing or takeoff, they will release a hook from their aircraft that will catch onto a cable running across the flight line. This, in turn, will activate the BAK-12 and will slowly bring the aircraft to a halt.
The 435th Construction and Training Squadron Depot is responsible for the upkeep of 47 sets of the BAK-12 system in USAFE.
“The BAK-12 system has to be fully broken down, repaired and put back together every 10 years,” said Staff Sgt. David Lary, 435th CTS Depot. “We rebuild all the systems in USAFE.”
Rebuilding the BAK-12 isn’t their only job, they also train coalition partners on the use and upkeep of these systems.
Over the past month they have trained a German Army mechanic and a civilian mechanic on the process of rebuilding the BAK-12.
“Two years ago, German purchased BAK-12 systems for the German Army,” said Daniel Müller, German Army mechanic. “We were sent to Ramstein to learn the process and find what tools will be needed to accomplish the repair.”
Müller and his counterpart, Alban Lachner, will take what they have learned and train other mechanics. Because their systems are only two years old they will have eight years until they have to put their knowledge to use.
“Having the Air Force’s checklists and technical orders will be a great help in teaching others,” said Müller.
Learning to repair these systems will save the German Army a large sum of money. The 435th CTS Depot saves the Air Force $161,000 in overhaul costs by repairing USAFE BAK-12 systems.
“If we had not gotten the opportunity to learn these skills, the system would have to be shipped back to the manufacturer in Florida,” said Müller. “This would have cost more money than we were willing to spend.”
The BAK-12 trainer system will be fully complete this week. The process from start to finish took six weeks.
Senior Airman Jared Carlisle, 435th CTS Depot, said their coalition partners weren’t the only ones learning something.
“They have been mechanics for a long time,” said Carlisle. “In some instances they showed us how to do something better.”
Müller and Lachner head back to Munich this week. They will begin to translate all checklists and technical orders and report to leadership what they have learned.