Marines prepare to receive arrested landings on Tinian
TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands – Two M-31 Marine Corps Expeditionary Arresting Gear Systems were installed on Tinian’s West Field Dec. 4 during Exercise Forager Fury 2012.
Eleven expeditionary airfield system technicians with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, worked the past four days to get this vital piece of equipment set up and ready to go.
“A setup usually takes a week, but these Marines really stepped up to the challenge,” said Sgt. Fasa Sengphachanh, an Expeditionary Airfield System crew leader with the squadron. “This is only the second time the M-31 has ever been used on an airfield made of coral.”
The M-31 is made of two trailers and is set in place with more than 50 anchors per trailer. When an aircraft lands and catches the cross deck pendant, the MCEAGS lets the aircraft run-out between 950-1,000 feet, depending on the speed and weight of the aircraft, before it comes to a complete stop, according to Sengphachanh.
The setup started with a surveyor lining up the spot for the arresting gear along the runway. After the trailers were set, Marines laid out stick placement templates and marked spots on the ground near the trailer to place anchors. Next, a soil test was conducted, which measured the hardness of the ground before the placement of the anchors. The anchors were then inserted into place by a jackhammer and connected to each trailer by a series of turn buckles. After all this was completed, an inspector came to make sure it was up to standards.
“They are writing the books [on setting up arresting gear on coral runways]. A lot of things we determined [during Exercise Geiger Fury] went into their amplifying instructions,” said Jay Mossage, an Expeditionary Airfield Service Unit Representative and M-31 site certifier with Naval Air Systems Command. “They have been doing great. If this plays out as well as it has been, it will actually be incorporated into their manual as a fixed set of instructions.”
The placement of the M-31 is extremely important during this exercise which will integrate MAG-12 into Marine Air Ground Task Force functions with a heavy emphasis on tactical aviation and aviation ground support in order to further develop a distributed, expeditionary capability within the MIRC. Without the M-31 and the Marines working it, there could not be any expeditionary airfield operations on Tinian.