By Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published November 09, 2017
This rare occasion was one of the few times this year HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 56th Rescue Squadron, F-15C Eagles from the 493rd Fighter Squadron and F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd and 494th FS were operating in the same airspace at once.
In the past year, Liberty Wing flying squadrons have supported deployments and training exercises across the globe.In fiscal year 2017, the 48th FW flying squadrons flew 8,823 sorties, which amounted to over 14,696 flying hours, a member of the 48th Operations Group said.
Col. Evan Pettus, 48th FW commander, said he appreciates the support from the local community during times of flying activity.“We have a great relationship with our host nation partners and community members,” he said. “They understand the importance of these operations, even when the skies get a bit louder than usual.”
The 492nd FS and its F-15E Strike Eagles recently returned from a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
While deployed as the 492nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the “Bolars” completed over 2,000 missions in support of U.S. Central Command operations.The squadron was also named the winner of the David C. Schilling Award, which recognizes the most outstanding contribution in the field of flight, in the atmosphere or space, by an Air Force military member, Air Force civilian, unit or group of individuals.
The 493rd FS “Grim Reapers” are currently active in Lithuania, supporting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. The squadron also increased interoperability with U.S. allies during exercise Artic Challenge in Finland and Sweden earlier this year.Additionally, the squadron earned the coveted Raytheon Trophy for the fifth time in 10 years for performance across specified mission sets, exercise participation, inspection results and squadron and individual achievements.
The 494th FS deployed to Israel in support of exercise Juniper Falcon May 7 – 22, 2017.
The “Mighty Black Panthers” conducted Defense Counter Air integration training with the Israeli Air Force, designed to improve Israel’s qualitative military edge through air readiness, while building on the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Israel.
This year, the two F-15E Strike Eagle squadrons celebrated their 25th year of being at the Liberty Wing.
By Master Sgt. Eric Burks, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — F-15E Strike Eagles and Airmen from the 492nd Fighter Squadron and supporting units across the 48th Fighter Wing have returned from a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
While deployed as the 492nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the “Bolars” completed nearly 11,000 flying hours and over 2,000 missions while delivering nearly 4,500 precision-guided munitions in support of U.S. Central Command operations.
Lt. Col. Jeremy Renken, 492nd FS commander, said it was an incredible deployment on many levels and allowed the F-15E to showcase its full capabilities.
“The squadron had multiple instances of pilots conducting air-to-air intercepts while their weapons systems officers were conducting strikes — not sequentially, but literally at the same time,” he said. “It’s a testament to not only the aircraft and aircrews, but also to the ammo troops, weapons troops, specialists, back shops, and crew chiefs who sent aloft our Strike Eagles and weapons systems that worked flawlessly when there was no margin for error.”
While the squadron was deployed, it was named the winner of the David C. Schilling Award for accomplishments in 2016.
The award, sponsored by the Air Force Association, recognizes “the most outstanding contribution in the field of flight” in the atmosphere or space, by an Air Force military member, Air Force civilian, unit, or group of individuals.
By Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. —
An F-15C Eagle pilot achieved an elite milestone of 4,000 flight hours Sept. 27 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Col. Brian “Spiderman” Kamp, Air National Guard advisor to the Air Force Warfare Center, hit the milestone after flying the F-15C over the last 28 years.
“Although the 4,000-hour milestone was never a goal I was seeking, my passion for flying and instructing for the last quarter-century made reaching that mark inevitable,” said Kamp.
Kamp initially joined the Air Force to continue his family legacy after his father served 27 years in the Air Force and his grandfather fought in World War II on D-Day.
“I have been fortunate enough to be a pilot and instructor for this long,” said Kamp. “It’s a passion of mine especially when you see the students’ progress and improve once they understand a specific topic.”
Kamp said he uses his good and bad experiences as examples in the classroom for students to learn and grow from, because there are very few jobs that have very real risks and dangers.
Fortunately, Kamp has never had to eject after flying more than 3,000 sorties – but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his fair share of close calls from being shot at in Desert Storm to having severe aircraft malfunctions and a mid-air collision.
“After that many sorties, only one percent of them were in-flight emergencies – but that’s still more than 30 in-flight emergencies,” said Kamp. “What we do as fighter pilots is inherently dangerous, and I’ve lost more than a dozen fellow F-15 brethren over the last 28 years just doing their jobs.”
With experience under his belt, Kamp plans to retire next March after 30 years with the Air Force.
“This milestone could not have happened without the professionalism and dedication of Eagle-Maintenance – it will be the culmination of my career,” said Kamp.
By Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. —
The 4th Fighter Wing celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The wing is able to trace its roots back to World War II, when seven American pilots volunteered to fight alongside the Royal Air Force and defend Europe against the German Luftwaffe.
Annually, the 4 FW honors the volunteer pilots and the RAF during a Battle of Britain celebration and piano burning event.
There are many stories as to how the piano burning tradition began.One of the more followed stories told is about a pilot who was also a gifted pianist. He would play in the officer’s mess after their missions. One day he did not return from his mission. In his honor, the RAF squadron took the mess piano outside and burned it.
“To this day, in the RAF, if we ever lose somebody or they pass away in service, the mess piano will get dragged outside and burned,” said RAF Squadron Leader Christopher Rugg, foreign exchange officer.
Rugg is an exchange officer currently stationed with the 4 FW. The program allows for one member of the RAF and one member of the United States Air Force to exchange for a three year period. “We have quite close ties,” said Rugg. “It is an exchange of ideas and people.”
This year seven pianos were burned during the Battle of Britain ceremony, Sept. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The seven pianos were donated and decorated by squadrons on base to be part of the piano burning ceremony.“The ‘heart of the volunteer’ resides in today’s Airmen of the 4th Fighter Wing, much as it did with those American volunteers in the Royal Air Force,” said Col. Christopher Sage, 4th Fighter Wing commander.
The 334th Fighter Squadron was one of the squadrons who took part in the Battle of Britain piano painting event. Members of the 334th faced challenges with the piano painting process, including their piano being pilfered by another squadron.
“Our piano was obtained by another squadron in good spirits, but it kind of put us in a bind,” said Capt. Sean Hoefer, 334th FS student pilot.Even though their piano was taken, the squadron found and re-painted another piano before the Battle of Britain event.The Eagles rallied together and painted a once wooden baby grand piano into a bright blue showcase.
“Our piano has the names of all former 334th members who have been killed in action,” said Hoefer.He added their piano painting design highlighted the squadron’s past and present.“We emphasized Don Allen, a former 334th Eagle maintainer and all of the nose art he did for morale in WWII,” said Hoefer. The piano sat on display at the squadron until its fiery fate at the 2017 4 FW Battle of Britain celebration.
“It’s important to remember your heritage,” said Rugg. “It gives you a basis to keep your culture going, it shapes you into more than just a collection of people.”The evening featured guest speakers including Rugg, a four-ship F-15E Strike Eagle flyover, piano burning and the unveiling of the F-15E Strike Eagle heritage aircraft with an anniversary paint scheme.
By Senior Airman Malissa Armstrong, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — The 391st Fighter Squadron demonstrated a new advancement to its systems for the first time at RED FLAG-Alaska 17-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, July 31st – August 11, 2017.
“This is the first time we’re going to showcase in an operational squadron the APG-82s, so our newest radar,” said Lt. Col. Robert Olvis, 391st Fighter Squadron commander. “It’s an (Active Electronically Scanned Array) Radar, 6.5 billion dollar investment in the F15-E and the 391st Gunfighters are the first to showcase that in an operational squadron.”
This radar allows the F-15E Strike Eagle to detect, identify and track multiple air and surface targets simultaneously.
“(With) Mountain Home, in particular the Strike Eagle, it’s been fantastic,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Warner, 80th Fighter Squadron operation deputy commander. “They’ve done some upgrades to the Strike Eagle which allow us over the data link to be able to communicate with them a little bit better (has) been pretty cool.”
The APG-82 AESA radar is designed to offer adaptability to changing targets and builds off the multirole-mission capability of the F-15E Strike Eagle.
“It allows the Strike Eagles to continue to do what they’re designed to do,” said Capt Zachary Zimmerman, 391st Fighter Squadron weapons system officer. “To fight our way in, drop precision ordinance and fight our way out in a high-density, near-peer air-to-air and air-to-ground threat environment.”
The APG-82 AESA radar allows the F-15E Strike Eagle to bridge the gap between the fourth and fifth generation fighting force. It can better integrate allowing the entire force to become more effective in combat.
By Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published September 05, 2017
“Big picture, we’re ensuring our strategic partnership with our Baltic allies by protecting the sovereign skies above the Baltic states,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Clint Guenther, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron detachment commander. “Our contingent is on alert twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to ensure we are fulfilling that commitment.”
What makes the F-15C uniquely suited for the Baltic Air Policing mission is its capability to detect, acquire, track and intercept opposing aircraft while operating in friendly or rival-controlled air space? The 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilots can detect and track aircraft and small high-speed targets at distances beyond visual range down to close range, and at altitudes down to treetop level.
“When the Combined Air Operations Center, monitoring the Baltic skies in Germany identifies an aircraft that is not squawking [talking to regional air traffic control] or on a registered flight plan, they notify the wing operations center here in Siauliai, who alerts us to respond,” Guenther said. “From that moment, we are airborne within fifteen minutes of that notification to interrogate that aircraft.”
F-15C Eagles can be configured with air-to-air weaponry such as the AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile on its lower fuselage corners and the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder or AIM-120 missiles on two pylons under the wings, along with an internal 20mm Gatling gun in the right wing root, allowing it to provide all-weather, day or night air superiority and air-to-ground precision capability
Preserving the integrity of allied airspace in peacetime by air policing remains a vital task and an important demonstration of the collective political will and resolve of all NATO nations; operations such as this are critical to the defense of NATO allies, their national interests and are a solid financial investment in Europe’s collective security.
NATO stands with its Baltic allies in maintaining a Europe that is safe, secure and prosperous. To date, seventeen NATO countries have shared the air policing mission in the Baltic region since operations began in April 2004.
By Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published August 31, 2017
ŠIAULIAI AIR BASE, Lithuania — The United States Air Force assumed control of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from the Polish air force during a hand-over, take-over ceremony at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, Aug. 30, 2017.
Approximately 140 Airmen and seven F-15C Eagles deployed to Lithuania as part of the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.
“I’m excited as a NATO Air Chief and I’m excited as a U.S. citizen to welcome the 493rd from the 48th Fighter Wing, an F-15C squadron to serve the next rotation of Baltic Air Policing,” said Gen. Tod D. Wolters, NATO Allied Air Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander. “It is the U.S.’ fifth opportunity to rotate and serve the region, and I know that all of our maintainers, operators, mission supporters and that beautiful F-15C will do whatever it takes over the next 120 days to protect the beautiful sovereign skies above Lithuania.”
NATO Air Policing is a peacetime collective defense mission, safeguarding the integrity of the NATO Alliance member’s airspace. The principle of collective defense is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.
“We know that all of NATO stands alongside us in defense of our shared values and principles,” said Vytautas Umbrasas, Vice Minister of Lithuania’s National Defence.
Baltic Air Policing is part of NATO’s “Smart Defense” model that incorporates allied nations, conducting operations through shared capabilities and coordinated efforts to effectively accomplish missions.
“I speak on behalf of every U.S. Airman here, when I say that it is our honor to protect and defend the sovereignty of the Baltic borders,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Cody Blake, 493rd EFS detachment commander.
This is the U.S. Air Force’s 5th rotation serving as the lead for the NATO mission. The 493rd EFS is slated to continue its current rotation through the end of the 2017 calendar year.