Note: I received word yesterday that it appeared that the 158th FW F-16s departed Savannah yesterday to return home to Vermont. This morning, I came across this article from the ACC about the Savannah Sentry exercise that would seem to confirm it as well as indicate that the 43rd FS F-22s should be returning home soon as well. I would assume that the 113th Wing F-16s will remain around for another week or so and that the Hawaii ANG F-22s that have been expected should arrive sometime soon.
by Senior Airman Christopher Reel
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/12/2014 – SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga. — Savannah is typically thought of as Georgia’s historic gem nestled in the northeast corner near the Atlantic Ocean. Besides historic homes beneath prestigious, moss-laced oak trees, Savannah houses the Combat Readiness Training Center, Georgia Air National Guard.
The CRTC provides all military branches and their units across the nation a location to deploy and hone war-fighting skills.
More than 200 Team Tyndall Airmen deployed to Savannah, Feb. 1. The 43rd Fighter Squadron sent 14 F-22 Raptors and the 325th Training Support Squadron provided seven T-38 Talons.
Because of Savannah’s CRTC central location and being along the coast, aircraft from Vermont, Florida, Georgia, Washington D.C. and various other locations also joined Tyndall for the training exercises.
F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors, F/A-18 Hornets, F-15 Strike Eagles and T-38 Talons lined the airstrip.
“The CRTC provides a world class training environment, which provides our senior basic course students the opportunity to fly with other types of aircraft,” said Major Adam Keith, 43rd FS chief of scheduling. “Each of the fighter aircraft and their pilot has their own skill set they bring to the fight, and we all get experience and learn.”
Feb. 10 and 11 proved to be the busiest flying day for the pilots and crew members. More than 30 aircraft participated in each of the morning and afternoon aerial exercises.
“It’s just another great benefit that our students and instructors are able to participate in events like this,” said Keith. “Back at Tyndall, we generally have eight to ten aircraft up in the air for training exercises.”
The joint-training exercise site provides a single location for all the pilots of all skill levels from installations all around to brief, fly, debrief and learn together.
“This is awesome,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Finnegan, 134th Fighter Squadron commander, Air National Guard Vermont. “It’s a great learning experience. The facilities here are good. It’s a good deployed location, plenty of ramp space and the airspace is close and sizeable. It’s been great being integrated with these different platforms.”
The 134th FS, also known as the Green Mountain Boys, brought 198 people and 14 F-16s to this year’s Sentry Savannah. This exercise is nothing new for the squadron, who has deployed two to three times in the last 10 years with their aircraft.
“We were thoroughly impressed with the (F-22) instructor pilots and students,” added Finnegan. “It’s always a great opportunity to see what the fifth generation aircraft and pilots have and see how they get to targets.”
Though Tyndall and Vermont will head back to their home stations soon, Sentry Savannah will continue for another two weeks. As units return home, other units will deploy in to Savannah CRTC to experience the large-scale aerial combat exercises.