Military News

Monday, March 16, 2015

Holloman Offers Visitors Unique Opportunity

by 2nd Lt. Travis Schirner
49th Wing Public Affairs

3/16/2015 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A two-man German Tornado crew encountered a crisis unlike anything they had been prepared to take on. To their rear is a Russian Mikoyan-and-Gurevich, coming in hot, ready to engage. The crew of the Tornado instinctively drops their payload, descends and speeds up. It's the Tornado's primary evasive maneuver, faster and lower. They cannot escape. Just then, behind the MiG, a U.S. F-16 pulls up.

"The whole thing lasted just 10 seconds - 10 seconds, it was over," said German Air Force (GAF) Master Sergeant Sebastian Becker, GAF Maintenance and Weapons Squadron, on a recent tour of the GAF Flying Training Center at Holloman.

It is this kind of synergy that characterizes German/American relations at Holloman Air Force Base. And those lucky enough to tour Holloman reap rewards from it in the form of legacy combat stories like this and one-of-a-kind experiences.

There are few places in the world where one can be briefed on the German Tornado, an American F-16, the MQ-1 and MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), and a historic high speed test track in the same day. Over a dozen teenage members of the inaugural Junior Leadership Otero group were given that opportunity March 9 at Holloman.

The Junior Leadership Otero program is designed for high school juniors throughout Otero County's school districts. Laurie Anderson, the group's advisor, said the program is "designed to guide, teach, and strengthen (the students') leadership abilities."

"Our hopes are to educate these junior leaders to see the important role Holloman Air Force Base has here in Otero County," she said. "How Holloman comes together as a team and the leadership they exemplify.  (We) allow them to see, hands-on, the different career opportunities that they can take and provide them with the education piece to get them there."

The 49th Wing at Holloman is host to a wide variety of tenant units, and the base offers visitors a unique view of Air Force training for many missions and aircraft, both foreign and domestic. Junior Leadership Otero students toured the 49th Wing, the GAF Flying Training Center, the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, MQ-9 Operations, the 846th Test Squadron and the 54th Fighter Group.

At the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the students were informed that remotely piloted aircraft teams at Holloman are training for careers at other Air Force installations across the U.S. They also got a chance to see static displays of MQ-1 and MQ-9 and hear detailed briefs on each from Airmen of the 49th AMXS in historic Hangar 500.

After remarking that RPA crews could see how many fingers someone is holding up from miles away, Maj. Jeurney Meekins, 49th AMXS commander, said, "We are taking out the bad guys with precision accuracy."

On the flight line, not far from where she stood, Holloman instructor pilots and sensor operators trained future crews. Pilots and sensor operators undergoing training at Holloman operate the MQ-1 and MQ-9 in the skies south of Alamogordo, preparing for future combat.

The students were also able to watch live RPA training missions on a wall of televisions in the MQ-9 operations center.

From behind the supervisor's desk, Maj. William, 49th Wing scheduler and MQ-9 evaluator pilot, said, "You hear a lot of things about RPAs in the news, on Twitter - but when you have troops on the ground, we can give the good guys a heads up about where the bad guys are coming from. That's huge. The truth is that RPAs save lives."

Upon completion of the tour, one student said, "The day educated us to understand the impact that Holloman Air Force Base has in our community, how the military works together. (We learned) what all Holloman Air Force Base does and all the types of job occupations that they have here.  It was a valuable day!"

Groups of 10 or more are welcome to visit the 49th Wing and its many tenant units. To schedule a tour, please contact the 49th Wing Public Affairs office at 575-572-7381.

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