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Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Chris Drudge
The 122nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, comprised of Louisiana and Florida Air National Guard members, arrive to Europe to participate as part of a Theater Security Package at Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, March 28, 2017. While in country, the 122nd EFS will also particpate in Frisian Flag, one of Europe’s largest aerial warfare exercises. For two weeks, fighter aircraft from different countries will carry out various training missions with the focus on international cooperation, international leadership and precision. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)
By Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 493rd Fighter Squadron, along with supporting units and equipment from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, completed Red Flag 17-2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, March 10.
During the two-week exercise, the squadron flew 162 sorties and tallied more than 348 flying hours with 14 F-15 Eagles, which is a new record for a unit of this size at Red Flag.
“The Reapers did great,” said Col. Jason Zumwalt, 493rd FS commander. “We’ve had an outstanding maintenance team giving us great jets every day. We’ve been able to put a lot of aircraft into these fights, and my pilots have gone out there and done very well against an extremely difficulty adversary.”
The Reapers, along with other joint and coalition Red Flag participants, trained above the vast bombing and gunnery ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range against opposing “aggressors,” who are specially trained to replicate tactics and techniques used by potential adversaries.
“You learn how to be better at what you do,” one 493rd FS pilot said. “From the youngest guy who has just qualified, to the two-ship flight leads, you learn how to be better at your position and how to bring you and your wingmen back from a mission.”
Red Flag provides aircrews and support personnel an opportunity to experience advanced, relevant, and realistic combat-like situations in a controlled environment. The exercise goal is to safely complete missions with an emphasis on disciplined initiatives, prudent risk-taking and comprehensive problem solving against agile adversaries in uncertain, contested environments.
“It’s been a great opportunity to take the team on the road, exercise from a deployed environment, and really practice what we would do in an actual combat situation,” Zumwalt said. “I’m very proud of the work that the maintenance support and ops team have done to generate the air power and exercise air superiority over the Nellis ranges.”
The 493rd FS will conclude their visit to Nellis by participating in sorties for the U. S. Air Force Weapons School, then continue on to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to take part in the Weapons System Evaluation Program in April.
“The 162nd and 173rd have been flying together for years and years,” said Col. Jeff Smith, the 173rd FW Commander. “In many cases, they come up to train with us in the summer when it is really hot here … and in the winter we tend to try and get away from the snow and ice … so we come down here and get training for our instructor pilots.”
The F-15 pilots flew as adversary air, freeing up the F-16 student and instructor pilots to accomplish the training needed and allow them to continue graduating F-16 pilots.
“While at home we aren’t really able to train much due to the snow and ice, so this is an opportunity for us to trade that student training and continue to produce as many fighter pilots for America as we can,” said Smith.
This training not only benefits the 162nd, but the 173rd pilots, maintainers, and support personnel as well. For the F-15 pilots, dissimilar air combat training shakes ups the routine and challenges their basic piloting and fighting skills. For the maintainers and support personnel, packing up their equipment and performing their skill sets away from home station presents challenges and opportunities for growth.
“It’s something a little different then we do on a daily basis,” said Senior Airman Tyler Stanford, 173rd FW F-15 crew chief. “It helps us train to fight against our adversaries and gives a better mission capability.” Stanford also pointed out that training opportunities such as this facilitate a broader range of learning.
Additionally, observing another unit’s operation and daily processes can encourage Airmen to bring back different processes and ideas to improve productivity and efficiencies within their own unit.
“I think we have great examples of how innovation can be sparked by going TDY or deploying; so many little things are different that you can learn from and figure out how we can adapt them to what we do and improve our processes,” said Smith.
Senior Airman Seena Barleen, 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, said she experienced this first hand. “I met with their transportation office, and it was fantastic to see how they do business every day and how it differs from what we do. I am taking back their continuity book and a few ideas to share with my supervisor.”
After a few weeks of training and expanding innovative thinking in the Arizona sunshine, the 173rd FW packed their equipment and people back up and headed back home to snowy Southern Oregon.
By Senior Airman John Linzmeier, 18th Wing Public Affairs / Published February 20, 2017
By Airman 1st Class Eli Chevalier, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published February 21, 2017
Airmen come and go, and deployment locations change, but over the last quarter of a century, one thing has remained constant at RAF Lakenheath: the combat air power projected throughout Europe and Africa from the 48th Fighter Wing’s F-15E Strike Eagles.
First touching down on the Liberty Wing’s runway Feb. 21, 1992, the F-15E has enjoyed 25 years of flying in East Anglia. The 492nd and 494th Fighter Squadrons are the only two Strike Eagle squadrons in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.
Col. Evan Pettus, 48th FW commander, said the 25th anniversary is a special milestone.
“This milestone is a reminder of the breadth and depth of the U.S. commitment to our partners and allies in NATO,” he said. “The Strike Eagle was our Air Force’s most modern machine when it landed at RAF Lakenheath 25 years ago, and it’s been upgraded continuously ever since. Today’s F-15E is far more lethal than ever before.”
While assigned to RAF Lakenheath, the Strike Eagle squadrons have supported combat operations in locations including Iraq, the Balkans, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, and have participated in exercises at more than 20 nations around the world.
“The F-15E will be with us for years to come, and it will continue to play a key role in ongoing combat operations,” Pettus said. “Soon, RAF Lakenheath’s F-15 units will be complimented by two squadrons of fifth generation F-35s, making the Liberty Wing even more capable of delivering decisive airpower to our nation and its allies.”
By Senior Airman Lynette M. Rolen, 18th Wing Public Affairs / Published February 13, 2017
As a fifth grader growing up in Arkansas, all Jordan Carr could think of was becoming a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.
Now 1st Lt. Jordan Carr, 67th Fighter Squadron pilot, has finally achieved his childhood dream.
“We had to do a newspaper article about what we wanted to do for our future career,” said Carr. “I wrote about how when I grew up, I wanted to be a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. From then on, I thought, ‘Ok, now everything I do, I can work toward this and always have a goal, even if it’s super long-term and I’m only a fifth grader, I can make it happen.’”
Throughout all of this time, over 16 years, Carr had support from his family, especially his two older brothers who have successful Air Force careers.
“It’s impossible to stay the course 100% of the time, so having supportive parents and great role models in my life played the most vital role,” said Carr. “Staying engaged in competitive activities also helped me along the way.”
Carr further stated the guidance and encouragement provided by his family and role models kept him on his path to becoming a fighter pilot.
Carr graduated from the University of Arkansas’ Air Force ROTC program in 2013.
Now, he’s a fighter pilot who’s living out his childhood dream and is living proof of how long-term goals can be achieved.
“It feels great knowing if you set a goal, anything is possible,” said Carr. “Much like any other career, achieving the initial title is just the beginning and now you essentially have a license to learn. Every day is a constant reminder that you can learn something new, polish a skillset, or focus on a weak point in order to better yourself and others.”
As a reminder of his childhood goals, Carr’s mother kept the article from his childhood to the present day.
“When I came out here, my mom framed the newspaper article from fifth grade,” said Carr. “I’m living the dream. There are a lot of fun things about being a fighter pilot. It’s exhilirating to fly fast and be tactically minded during the flight, but it’s also a lot of hard work.”
In addition to flying, Carr monitors several additional duties. Although it’s hard work, Carr commented he enjoys his job and finds it rewarding.
“Carr’s most notable characteristic is his positivity,” said Capt. Gregory Schroeder, 67th FS weapons officer. “He’s never pessimistic and his positive demeanor influences everybody else. He works with maintainers frequently and is a great wingman.”
Carr enjoys working with maintainers because it provides him with an opportunity to share his enthusiasm about his job.
“One of my favorite parts of the job is being able to share it with others,” said Carr. “When we do incentive flights for the maintainers, you’re able to showcase what their hard work is going toward. It’s an awesome way to thank them.”
Carr said he also enjoys sharing information about his job with his family.
“It’s always fun to tell them what’s going on,” said Carr. “Especially when my two older brothers speak the language (of being a pilot) and we can talk about the nature of the work and the fun things about it.”
Carr mentioned even though his job is fun, he is constantly studying and perfecting his skill.
“The 18th Wing is successful because Airmen like 1st Lt. Carr are not satisfied with the status quo,” said Capt. Robert Hendrick, 67th FS assistant director of operations. “He has spent long hours during the week and many weekends at the squadron preparing for training missions and ensuring the rest of the squadron has the tactical tools to succeed.”
Hendrick further commented Carr’s dedication helps the 67th FS maintain a tactical edge and contributes to 18th Wing mission success.
“There are a lot of little cogs that make up the big picture,” said Carr. “I think it’s easy to get tunnel vision, so it’s important to step back and realize we’re all part of a team. No community is better than another. Remaining humble keeps our (Eagle) team performing at a high level while encouraging positive integration with other units.”