November 6, 2008

192nd Fighter Wing takes to the air for Sentry Voodoo 2008

By Lt. Col. Debbie Magaldi
Virginia Air Guard Public Affairs

Two F-22 Raptors from the Virginia National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing (top) fly over Louisiana during Sentry Vooodoo 2008 in August. (Photo courtesy Louisiana Air National Guard)

NEW ORLEANS — Pilots and support personnel from the 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard, teamed up with other Guard units, the active duty Air Force and the Navy Reserve to hone their aerial combat fighting skills during Sentry Voodoo 2008 held Aug. 16-29 in New Orleans, La.

The exercise pitted 192nd and 1st Fighter Wing pilots from Langley Air Force Base, Va., flying F-22 Raptors, with F-15s from the 122nd Fighter Squadron, Louisiana ANG, against an adversary force. The adversaries included F-18s assigned to Fighter Attack Squadron VFA-204 of the Navy Reserve, based near New Orleans, F-16s from the 100th Fighter Squadron, Alabama ANG, and AT-38s from the 49th Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss., and the 3rd FTS from Vance AFB, Okla.
Sixteen pilots and 122 maintenance and support personnel from the 1st and 192nd Fighter Wings participated in the nearly 90 sorties flown during the dissimilar air combat tactics (DACT) training exercise.

An F-22 Raptor from the 192nd Fighter Wing (center) flies over New Orleans during Sentry Voodoo 2008. (Photo courtesy Louisiana Air National Guard)

Training was the key purpose of the exercise. However, organizers also wanted to see how well the Eagle and Raptor can work together in air superiority missions.

"It was a great opportunity for 1st and 192nd FW pilots to gain valuable mission training and experience flying in a large-force exercise environment with dissimilar aircraft," explained Deployment Project Officer, Major Steve Alexander, 149th Fighter Squadron pilot with the 192nd FW. Sentry Voodoo is a "large-force" exercise because of the variety of airframes – both friendly and adversary – that are integrated into the training.

"At home station we don't get the opportunity to train with dissimilar assets. Sentry Voodoo provided us with a rare opportunity to pair the Raptor and the Eagle in mixed-force operations against a large number of skilled adversaries," Major Alexander said. "Except for training like Red Flag exercises, we usually don't get this number or variety of units involved. This level of diversity really adds to the training experience."

"The training was an unqualified success," Major Alexander added. "It is something we will look to do again in the future. We need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of integrating our air frames. We can understand in theory how it should work, but an exercise like this allows us to put an operational plan into action. We've found that pairing these aircraft gives us an extremely capable and very deadly force."

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