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.