Furloughed Technicians Back on the Job at the 104th Fighter Wing
WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The government furlough is over for 260 workers with the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.
That means the F-15’s will soon be back up in the air.
The F-15’s have sat quietly on the tarmac at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee where they are stationed while runway work at Barnes Airport continues.
Meanwhile, the 260 furloughed workers are back at work at the 104th Fighter Wing including Major Matthew Mutti.
“It’s difficult to live day-by-day, not knowing when you next paycheck’s going to come,” says Major Mutti.
Those furloughed included the technicians that are so vital to the maintenance and operation of the F-15’s.
“The problem with not having all our full-time force here is we don’t have all the maintenance expertise, if we did have some kind of problem with one of the jets. So having our full-time workforce back now, we can make sure the jets are maintained and we can start a limited flying schedule to keep the pilots proficient,” says 104th Wing Commander Col. James Keefe.
The F-15’s will be back in the air as early as Wednesday on a limited training basis and it’s not a minute too soon.
“Had this gone on longer, we would have seen more and more regression in the pilot’s currency, their training statuses, and also our ability to maintain our jets,” says Col. Peter Green, 104th Maintenance Commander.
While the 260 furloughed technicians are back, the 700 part-time reservists are not.
Colonel Keefe says the training exercise for part-time reservists that was cancelled this past weekend is going to have to be made up probably sometime late next Spring or early Summer.