News: Snowy mountains to tropical paradise: 173rd Fighter Wing flies in Hawaii
Story by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Ninety-plus airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, left the snowy skies of Klamath Falls, Ore., for the tropical paradise of Oahu, Hawaii, March 2, 2012. As appealing as the warm sun and sandy beaches are, that was not what motivated these Airmen to pack up five F-15 Eagles and head across the Pacific Ocean. Members of the 173rd FW were there to support the multi-unit exercise SENTRY ALOHA.
SENTRY ALOHA is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise that provides an opportunity for dissimilar aircraft combat training (DACT) with a special focus on air-to-air combat between F-15, F-16 and F-22 aircraft.
“The purpose of SENTRY ALOHA is to continue the development of tactics for fourth generation and fifth generation fighters in a complex training environment. We wanted to increase our individual pilot’s proficiencies in flying with F-22s and advanced tactics; so we are, in turn, able to teach those to our students,” said Maj. Sean Sullivan, 173rd Fighter Wing Instructor Pilot and Project Officer for SENTRY ALOHA.
Learning what to expect when sharing the airspace with multiple air-frames is extremely important to combat pilots. The knowledge and skill-set they gain from flying DACT is absolutely essential when deployed to war zone
“While this is great training for our pilots, we are actually also helping to validate some new tactics that will be used U.S. Air Force wide once they are thoroughly tested,” said Col. Jeffrey Silver, 173rd Fighter Wing Commander.
The training was held at the 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Force Base. The 154th is currently flying the fifth generation fighter F-22 Raptor. The HANG F-22s and ORANG F-15s were joined by F-16 Fighting Falcons, from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
Additionally, this exercise provided an excellent opportunity for the aircraft maintainers and support personnel to operate in a deployed environment. Leaving home station and working out of a different location presents many challenges.
“There are a lot of challenges when working in a different environment. We don’t have the resources here that we would have at home. We are forced to plan ahead and work with a limited number of people,” added Staff Sgt. Joel Scott, 173rd Fighter Wing F-15 Crew Chief.
Overall the exercise was a success. Thanks to the superb work of the 173rd maintainers, zero sorties were lost due to maintenance.
When asked how the maintainers were performing, 2nd Lt. Eric McDaniel, 173rd FW SENTRY ALOHA Maintenance Project Officer said, “Outstanding! There were some challenges with the weather. But on the maintenance side we have been able to deliver everything we’ve been asked to.”
Two weeks flew by quickly, and March18 the 173rd packed up their jets and equipment and said goodbye to the balmy weather, returning home to snow and ice.
The 173rd Fighter Wing is one of two F-15 units in the State of Oregon. It is the sole U.S. Air Force F-15 schoolhouse in the Nation.