By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shayla D. Hamilton, USS George Washington Public Affairs
EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, embarked aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the Chilean Air Force (FACh) are conducting exercise Blue Sky (BS) V as part of Southern Seas 2015, Oct. 9-23.
"Blue Sky" is a historic name given to exercises conducted between the FACh and U.S. aviation forces. The exercise is designed to improve relations between Chile and the U.S. through cooperative airborne tactical engagements.
During BS V, CVW 2 will conduct bi-lateral exercises with the FACh over land and off the coast of Chile.
"Blue Sky V provides valuable Dissimilar Air Combat Training [DACT] to Naval aviators," said Cmdr. Wells Green, CVW 2's operations officer. "Most of us will go our entire flying career and not get an opportunity like the one we're being presented with."
Green also said these exercises are extremely important when it comes to fostering international relations between military organizations around the globe.
Participants from the GWCSG include the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, The "Bounty Hunters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, the "Blue Blasters" of VFA 34, the "Kestrels" of VFA 137, the "Golden Dragons" of VFA 19, the "Gauntlets" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, the "Black Eagles" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Blue Hawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4 and the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.
During the exercise, Chilean distinguished visitors embarked aboard George Washington where they were offered the opportunity to observe flight operations, aircraft launch and recovery and ship navigation.
Green said the visits allowed the Chileans to tour the ship to view and gain an appreciation for Naval aviation.
Capt. Felipe Garrido, Chilean liaison officer, said the ultimate goal of the exercise is to learn how NATO countries operate to ensure FACh's training is up to those standards.
"As LNOs [liaison officers] we aim to stand as the direct point of contact between the participating forces in Blue Sky V," said Garrido. "We work directly with the different squadrons in order to clarify any doubts that come about during the exercise. The exercises allow for instant feedback in regards to Chilean force operations. I believe these exercises will improve our skills and we hope to continue participating in exercises to come."
Held by Commander, U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, SOUTHERN SEAS 15 is a U.S. Navy deployment to conduct Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) activities and exercises including UNITAS 2015 in order to enhance relationships and interoperability with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America.
Washington is deployed as part of Southern Seas 2015 which seeks to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability and build and maintain relationships with countries throughout the region through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.