“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.