For the next week, the skies above Hawaii will be home to some of the nation’s top military aircraft.
The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing is hosting its third and final Sentry Aloha training exercise for 2017. The training will run through the first week of April.
Sentry Aloha is part of a collaboration with the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and other Department of Defense services to “provide U.S. warfighters with the skill sets necessary to perform their homeland defense and overseas combat missions,” Air National Guard officials said in a statement.
More than 800 military personnel, nine flying squadrons and 33 combat aircraft from Hawaii, California, Mississippi, Florida and Utah are at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to participate in Sentry Aloha, where they will train in various combat conditions that otherwise could not be possible on the mainland, including unlimited airspace.
“The fantastic airspace over the North Shore that we have, unlimited supersonic airspace allows us to get unlimited, unrestricted training,” said Col. John Fox, Operations Commander, 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard.
Among the 33 aircraft involved are the F-22 Raptor and the F-15 Eagle, the two primary fighter planes for the duration of training.
Lt. Col. Matthew Ohman, 144th Wing, California Air National Guard, said working with the two planes has been extremely beneficial for him.
“It’s something that we can’t do at our home station,” said Ohman. “This type of fighter integration only happens when the F-15 is able to train with the F-22. So we get larger force exercise training that we don’t get on a daily basis.”
The first and second Sentry Aloha training exercises concluded at the beginning of the year with the final exercises concluding in April, but Fox said their training is far from done. “We’ll travel back to the mainland for some follow-up exercises in Nellis Air Force Base and then Utah and then on to Alaska,” he said.”So we’re pretty busy this year doing our training.”