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Changeover of F-15s expected to be smooth

Westfield air base phasing out A-10s

WESTFIELD -- The changeover of the Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing from A-10s to F-15s is not expected to disrupt the unit or its personnel, its commander said.

''We have flown a lot of fighters in our 58-year history," Colonel Marcel E. Kerdavid, commander of the Barnes Air National Guard Base, said last week. ''The people here working now for the most part are the people who will be working on the F-15s."

In a somewhat surprising move, a federal base closure commission decided in August to move the F-15s at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod to Barnes. The decision by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission also moves the 104th's and the Connecticut Air National Guard 103rd Fighter Wing's A-10s out of the region.

''In no way is the 104th being dismantled, disrupted, or given away," Kerdavid told The Republican of Springfield. ''The only thing that is going to change is the aircraft."

The commission's decision will mean an increase in Barnes personnel, including some who may transfer from Otis, said Brigadier General Michael D. Akey, commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. He did not know the exact number of additional personnel.

Some of the 104th's pilots may elect to remain with the A-10 mission and transfer elsewhere, Kerdavid said. Some may elect to stay. ''I would imagine a lot are going to stay local, stay here, and convert," he said, adding that he intends to stay on.

The exact timetable for the changes is not known either, Akey said.

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