By LANCE CPL. ANTONIO RUBIO
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands—Expeditionary airfield system technicians installed two M-31 Marine Corps expeditionary arresting gear systems Nov. 22 at Tinian’s West Field in preparation for Exercise Forager Fury II.
The arresting gear is a dynamic piece of equipment critical to FF II, which is a joint exercise designed to employ and assess combat power generation in a deployed and austere environment. The Marines are with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“It is capable of stopping a fully loaded F-18 or any tail-hooked equipped aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Joaquin Moreno, the expeditionary airfield staff noncommissioned officer in charge with MWSS-171.
The M-31 is made of two trailers and is set in place with more than 50 anchors per trailer. The arresting gear works by combining two hydrodynamic breaking action arrester engines anchored to the surface, positioned directly across from each other on the runway connected by a cable.
Before the M-31 is set up, surveyors lined up the placement for the arresting gear along the runway.
“We absolutely need the surveyors,” said Moreno. “They’re crucial to let us know that our requirements for the elevation of our trailers in relation to each other are met. Without them, we cannot operate.”
After the trailers were set, Marines placed stick placement templates and marked spots on the ground near the trailer to place anchors. Next, they tested the hardness of the ground before the placement of the anchors. The anchors were then inserted into place and connected to each trailer.
“We only have a certain amount of tolerance amongst twisting and tightening down between each gear,” said Lance Cpl. Justin Self, an expeditionary airfield system technician with MWSS-171. “After we found the proper measurements, we set up the gear in its designated location using a proper layout tool based out of our manual.”
The arresting gear works when an aircraft passes over the cable, activating it which causing it to rapidly decelerate on short landing strips, according to Moreno.
For some of the expedition airfield system technicians this was their first time setting up the arresting gear in a field environment.
“I’ve learned the importance of proper (personal protective equipment) and how safety is paramount on and off the airfield,” said Pfc. Chase Leake is an expeditionary airfield system technician with MWSS-171. “This is definitely a hands-on experience and I’m excited to be here doing training I don’t normally get the chance to do."