Military News

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sentry Eagle 2015 caps a busy summer for 173rd FW

by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/20/2015 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore -- More than 40 fighter aircraft and two tankers visited Kingsley Field for a multi-force exercise July 30-Aug. 2 hosted by the 173rd Fighter Wing.

Sentry Eagle 2015 marked a nearly 30-year-span for the exercise featuring dissimilar air combat techniques among fighter airframes.

The exercise drew units from as far away as South Carolina and included units from Arizona, Texas, and California and aircraft from U.S. Naval Air Station Lemoore.

"Sentry Eagle 2015 was a huge tactical success for all of the participating units, preparing them for the battlefield we may encounter in the future," said Maj. Victor Knill, the assistant project officer for the exercise.

"[Among the various scenarios,] units faced-up against an outnumbered, realistic enemy air threat," said Knill. "Additionally they practiced defensive counter-air, or protecting something from an enemy air strike, and offensive counter-air where they escorted a strike force to eliminate a defended target."

Bringing the exercise to fruition required the fuel shop to pump more than 1 million gallons of fuel, the maintenance group to coordinate ramp space for all the visiting aircraft, and the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron to orchestrate launch and recovery of 1,128 arrivals and departures for the four days of Sentry Eagle.

"That is close to triple our normal operating tempo," said Doug Cunningham, the air traffic manager.

In order to accommodate this high traffic time the tower brought in extra people as did many base organizations. Fuels added an entire extra shift to help cover everything from fueling more than 50 aircraft to receiving 12-14 delivery tankers daily to maintain enough fuel for another day of flying.

Master Sgt. Eddie Gibson, the fuels shop superintendent, reports receiving and delivering 1.3 million gallons of fuel for the exercise.

Additionally, parking for all of the visiting aircraft takes precise planning. Maintenance troops created an alternate pattern utilizing closer spacing, stored a number of resident Kingsley jets that didn't fly in the exercise, and worked closely with operations to coordinate traffic flow, .said Master Sgt. Bryan Johnson, the lead maintenance expediter for Sentry Eagle.

"Setting up the parking is the most difficult part." said Johnson. "You have to get out and physically measure the spaces; we are literally down to the foot for parking these aircraft."

Another feature of the exercise since its inception 30 years ago is an open house. On Saturday the public was welcomed to the base for most of the day to observe the large number of aircraft launching and departing and a festival-like atmosphere surrounding the flight line.

"We had static displays, a climbing wall, and some really interactive displays set up for the community." said Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar, 173rd FW Public Affairs manager. "We estimated 10 thousand people visited the base for the open house."

Organizers hope to host the next Sentry Eagle in 2017, but with sequestration and budget cuts prevalent around the Department of Defense they say that they will have more certainty as that time draws closer.

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