‘Sentry Aloha’ training has skies buzzing
Four F-22 Raptor fighters roared off the reef runway at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Wednesday morning, tracing a near vertical path skyward that quickly took them to 16,000 feet before heading over Oahu for training north of the island.
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Four F-22 Raptor fighters roared off the reef runway
at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Wednesday morning, tracing a near vertical path skyward that quickly took them to 16,000 feet before heading over Oahu for training north of the island.
The Hawaii Raptors were followed by two F-16s from Oklahoma, four F-15s from Oregon, four more F-22s and four additional F-16s.
The Hawaii Air National Guard is once again conducting its large-scale Sentry Aloha fighter exercise, with this iteration running from Aug. 21 through Sept. 4.
The exercise involves about 800 personnel and more than 25 aircraft from
15 states and territories.
Sentry Aloha exercises have been conducted by the
Hawaii Air Guard two to four times per year for several
But the makeup of the Hawaii fighter group is changing, and so is its mission.
The Raptor roster has grown from 20 to 27 stealth aircraft with the addition of seven F-22s as well as dozens of pilots and maintainers from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which was damaged by Hurricane Michael in October.
The Air Force said it could add to the efficiency of other bases with smaller number of F-22s, including Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, by
increasing the number of
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Tuesday at the Naval War College that many service members have spent their careers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“But times have changed,” Esper said. “We are now in an era of great power competition. Our strategic competitors are Russia and China.”
Stealth aircraft are considered “door kickers” for any potential conflict with China, and the change in mission set — and the fact that
Hawaii has 27 of just
186 F-22s in the Air Force — has meant more day-to-day training for the Raptors,
The jets are flown by the Hawaii Air Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron and active duty 19th Fighter Squadron.
The F-22 “is state of the art, it’s the best in the world for low visibility so we can’t be seen, but then also having that far-reaching capability to engage at much farther distance,” said Col. Dann Carlson, the commander of the Air Guard’s 154th Wing
Three B-2 Spirit bombers deployed to Hawaii about a year ago and operated with Hickam-based F-22s.
“Like the B-2, the F-22 is virtually invisible to threats,” the Air Force said at the time. “This makes them the perfect match for escorting the stealth bombers and providing situational awareness.”
The Raptors have advanced sensors and avionics that enable complex battle coordination with many
different elements. Along with their stealth, the features define them as “5th generation,” meaning the most capable in existence.
Carlson said the Sentry Aloha training reflects a
modern day aerial battlefield defined by long-distance missiles.
“Obviously we can reach out and touch people much farther away,” Carlson said. “But even our formations — the (old) idea that we’re going to be flying in close formation, no, we’re probably 10 miles away from each other and again, able to target multiple things.”
Visiting flying units for
Sentry Aloha include fighters from Oregon and Oklahoma, refueling tanker support from Utah and Nebraska and a radar aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force.
The fighters fly twice a day with the F-15s and F-16s, considered 4th generation fighters, sometimes taking on
the role of enemy aircraft,
officials said. At other times they work on combat integration with the more advanced F-22s.
Carlson said the Air Guard wanted Oahu residents to understand the importance of the training.
“We know we’re making some extra noise,” he said. “Again, we know that can
be a nuisance at times, but it’s well worth it. And the training that we get out of that is hugely important for our pilots.”