RED HORSE Airmen literally bring safety to JSF brake testing
8/4/2010 by Kenji Thuloweit - 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
"8/4/2010 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- During developmental testing and evaluation at Edwards, safety is a core priority. When base resources are unavailable to make flight tests the safest they can possibly be, commanders here do not hesitate to search throughout the Air Force for assistance.
With the Joint Strike Fighter currently undergoing braking tests, which include wet and dry brake testing, the 416th Flight Test Squadron and the Air Force Flight Test Center decided they needed an additional safety barrier.
That's where the 823rd and 820th RED HORSE Airmen come in.
RED HORSE stands for rapid engineer deployable heavy operational repair squadron engineers.
These highly deployable Airmen and their equipment travel the globe providing the Air Force with a mobile civil engineering capability.
"We go all over," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Fralick, 823rd RED HORSE Barrier Maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge.
Here in the high desert, an 11-man team consisting of five Airmen from 823rd RED HORSE out of Hurlburt Field, Florida and six from 820th RED HORSE out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., arrived in late July to support the JSF taxiing and braking tests.
The two teams merged due to the short notice of the deployment and the fact that equipment can be driven down from Nellis AFB, which is relatively nearby.
The team set up the mobile aircraft arresting system on Edwards' 12,000-foot inside runway.
The MAAS was installed in case, for whatever reason, the JSF had an emergency and would not be able to stop. It consists of two mobile braking systems, one on each side [END?] of the runway, with a cable laid across the runway between them. Specifically, the braking system is made from a modified B-52 braking system.
The mobile barrier is used for any jet equipped with a tail hook. If a jet could not stop, the tail hook would catch the cable and the MAAS' braking system would engage then slow down and stop the airplane. It's similar to the way planes land on aircraft carriers.
"The aircraft carrier uses just steel cables and steam power to stop their jets," said Sergeant Fralick. "We also use a nylon tape to absorb some of that energy and then the B-52 brakes to stop the plane."
The MAAS is held in place with more than 150 66-inch spikes driven into the ground. The team took just two days to set it up, which was notable given the short notice of their deployment. They were able to set up the MAAS in time for the JSF runway testing.
"We were anticipating it would take about four days because of the type of soil on Edwards," Sergeant Fralick said. "We heard it was really hard, which makes it harder to drive the stakes in the ground, but we ended up knocking it out in two days."
"They basically set up the MAAS in a weekend, which was amazing," said Bruce Strong, 412th Operations Support Squadron, Director of Operations for the Airfield Operations Flight. "Those guys are something."
Once the JSF brake testing is finished the RED HORSE team will break down the MAAS and transport it back to Nellis AFB.
Sergeant Fralick said RED HORSE teams set up these MAAS barriers everywhere from air shows to Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We did two installs down range this year and we also support the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels," said Sergeant Fralick. "We have an air show in Sacramento coming up where we will do the same thing. We'll set the barrier up for the duration of the air show then we'll pull it back up - it will be like we were never there."