Barnes 104th Fighter Wing to be deployed to Malaysia - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Barnes 104th Fighter Wing to be deployed to Malaysia

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WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The men and women of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard base in Westfield are packing up their F-15s and are heading overseas as part of a month long training expedition.  

The mission, dubbed "COPE TAUFAN", guard members will be conducting exercise operations alongside active duty F-22 Raptor aircraft and multinational Mig-29 and Su-27 aircraft.

"It's a bi-annual exercise held in Malaysia. It's been going on for several years now," Col. James Keefe said.  

This is the first time Keefe's specific unit has participated in the excursion.

"It allows the 104th Fighter Wing to perform it's mission out in the pacific area with our national defense strategy," Keefe said.  

A strategy that may be brought into play if the air wing were to ever be deployed to the country.

"Just the logistics itself that's a good part of the training," Keefe said.  

The group will be based in the same area where the search continues for missing Malaysian Flight 370.

However, Keefe said his team will not be taking part in the search.

"We won't have anything to do with that. We're just going over to work with our partners in Malaysia. We've done since the 1980s," Keefe explained.  

Sensitive information such as how many planes will be there and the specifics of the mission could not be released.

The air wing will deploy out early Tuesday morning.

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