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Pilots ‘surge’ through exercise

  • Published
  • By Andrea Jenkins
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Pilots from the 23rd Fighter Group were recently put to the test during a Phase 1 and Phase 2 exercise Dec. 4 through 7.

During the week-long exercise, A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots flew around-the-clock surge operations to demonstrate the 23rd Wing’s ability to rapidly deploy at a moment’s notice to meet the needs of combatant commanders.

“This exercise prepared our Airmen to execute our wartime mission,” said Col. Michael Curley, 23rd FG commander. “The fighter group trained to execute their primary wartime mission to deliver and support the delivery of Close Air Support and Combat Search and Rescue in any theater, anytime around the globe. Specifically, A-10s from the 75th Fighter Squadron trained in a variety of combat scenarios in adverse weather during day and night with joint terminal attack controllers.”

Pilots clocked in excess of 100 sorties during the week, more than doubling the number of sorties flown in a typical week.

“During surge operations, maintenance and operations generate maximum sorties in a short period of time to exercise our max capacity to generate combat capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Rob Sweet, 476th Fighter Group deputy commander. “It tasks people at a higher level and requires max effort from everybody rolling at ramming speed. I think it helps the younger pilots get in the groove for a deployment because we’re flying more sorties and spending more time in the jet, which is what happens when we deploy.”

While sorties aren’t normally as robust during surge operations because it’s about generating numbers, which forces pilots to be flexible, added Sweet.

“You don’t really know what you’re doing the night before, so you come in and you’re given your tasking,” Sweet said. “Normally, you know exactly what you’re doing and you have days to plan and train for the mission. In combat you don’t always have that planning time, and in surge operations you don’t always have that either. It’s like a flex game, which is not unrealistic, so in that way it gets us ready for deployments.”

Exercises, like a Phase 1 and Phase 2, keep Airmen ready for any short-notice deployments and allow units to assess and improve their procedures.

“The exercise increased the readiness of the 23rd FG and Airmen across the 23rd WG,” Curley said. “The team also identified areas for improvement to enhance future operational readiness. Overall, the 23rd FG and the 23rd Maintenance Group team performed well to generate combat airpower and deliver battlefield effects -- weapons on target, in the right place, at the right time.”