Lt. Gov. visits 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Municipal Airport - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lt. Gov. visits 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Municipal Airport

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WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base is being recognized as one of the country's leading alert sites and Thursday the Lt. Governor came to congratulate them.

The Fighter Wing recently passed a NORAD, or North American Aerospace Defense Command evaluation, with the highest possible rating.

"Seconds matter, and so to have the high level and high quality response and immediate response taking place here is a good thing for the entire northeast and for the country," said Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray.

The wing commander explained to CBS 3 a little bit about what the test entails.

"The alert mission itself in terms of us being tested, we have a minimum response time. If there's a threat that penetrates the U.S. sovereign air space, a call will come down from the Eastern Air Defense Sector to the 104th fighter wing, scrambling our air craft. And then once we get that scramble order our pilots and maintainers will go ahead and start activating and get our jets ready," said 104th Fighter Wing Commander Col. James Keefe.

Also discussed during the Lt. Governor's visit were several initiatives to better position the base for threats, including a proposed runway reconstruction project.

"What that's going to do is it's going to enable us to be able to operate the aircrafts here safer and more efficiently. We're also doing some infrastructure changes on our main hanger again that's going to allow us to operate more efficiently," said Keefe.

Like many air reserve bases, Barnes is dealing with the impacts of the sequestration, though officials at the base say the cuts aren't affecting them as much as others in the area.

"We are looking at some of our technician force similar to Westover being furloughed and if that happens, obviously a decrease in capability on the training side, but it really would not have an impact on our alert mission," said Keefe.

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