Military Aviation

A quick look at how Barksdale Air Force Base provided refuge to evacuated aircraft in the face of Hurricane Matthew

Barksdale Air Force Base providing refuge to evacuated aircraft in the face of Hurricane Matthew

Taken on Oct. 7, 2016 the interesting pictures in this article show F-15E Strike Eagle fighter bombers from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (AFB), N.C., resting on the flightline at Barksdale AFB, La.. Actually more than 40 F-15Es from Seymour Johnson AFB were relocated to Barksdale AFB to avoid damage from high winds associated with Hurricane Matthew which hit hard the southeastern United States.

In fact Barksdale AFB acted as a safe haven from severe weather associated with Hurricane Matthew along the East Coast for more than 400 personnel and 100 aircraft from Oct. 4-11.
Barksdale, which is home to the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) and to the 2nd Bomb Wing (BW) with three squadrons of B-52H Stratofortress bombers, hosted aircraft from several East Coast bases. The visitors were from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.

“Our team here is happy to provide refuge to our East Coast warriors,” explained Col. Ty Neuman, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. “We are well-equipped and ready to welcome Airmen and aircraft as they out-fly an impending hurricane.”

A KC-135 Stratotanker was the first to arrive, carrying the hurricane evacuation advance team from Seymour Johnson that began setting up any equipment the coming aircraft would need, followed soon after by F-15E Strike Eagles on Oct. 4. Other aircraft included F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, more KC-135s and U.S. Navy E-2 Hawkeyes.

A standard precautionary relocation plan

The repositioning was part of a standard precautionary relocation plan. Contingency plans such as this are routine for military installations to ensure the safety and security of high-value assets. “In this case, Barksdale was the best location to protect the $1.9 billion in F-16s we needed to reposition,” said Lt. Col. Michael Horlbeck, 20th Operations Group commander and evacuation mission commander for Shaw. Airmen throughout the 2nd BW in maintenance, operations, support and logistics units worked together to make the stay as seamless as possible and demonstrate Barksdale’s ability to be generous hosts for a large-scale movement.

As told by Master Sgt. Christopher Biery, 2nd Operations Support Squadron airfield manager “It took a total team effort to come together and support our fellow Airmen from bedding down aircraft and finding a place for incoming Airmen to work, to providing transportation and places for them to eat and sleep.” Furthermore Biery added that Team Barksdale provided “support for over 100 aircraft while still being able to complete the B-52 mission.”

Noteworthy providing refuge to evacuated aircraft in the face of a hurricane is nothing new to Team Barksdale. In 2005, as Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, Barksdale provided refuge. In 2015, the base hosted more than 200 Airmen and 60 evacuated aircraft due to destructive winds caused by Hurricane Joaquin.

Source: Barksdale becomes safe haven for evacuated Airmen, aircraft by Senior Airman Curt Beach, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs; Photo credit: Senior Airman Curt Beach / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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