The sight and sound of fighter jets roaring off the reef runway one after the other at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will return Wednesday with the latest iteration of the Hawaii Air National Guard’s “Sentry Aloha” fighter exercise.
Approximately 35 aircraft and 1,000 personnel from eight states will be participating in the air exercise through Jan. 22, the National Guard said.
“Sentry Aloha is an ongoing series of exercises hosted by the (Hawaii Air Guard’s) 154th Wing enabling tailored, cost effective and realistic combat training for Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force, and other Department of Defense services,” the National Guard said in a release. “It provides U.S. warfighters with the skill sets necessary to perform homeland defense and overseas combat missions.”
F-22 Raptors with the Hawaii-based 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons will participate in exercises with F-15 Eagles from the California Air National Guard and F-16 Fighting Falcons from Alaska, along with radar aircraft from Oklahoma and KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling support from the Wisconsin Air National Guard, officials said.
Sentry Aloha exercises have been conducted by the Hawaii Air Guard two to four times per year for more than two decades.
In late August and early September, about 800 personnel and more than 25 aircraft participated in the training, which included the Hawaii Raptors, F-16s from Oklahoma and F-15s from Oregon.
The stealthy F-22s could be seen taking off from the reef runway and 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 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 of 2018.
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 jets there.
Stealth aircraft are considered “door kickers” for any potential conflict with China 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, officials said.
The jets are flown by the Hawaii Air Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron and active duty 19th Fighter Squadron. The 199th Fighter Squadron is part of the 154th Wing, the largest wing in the Air National Guard. The Hawaii Air National Guard has nearly 2,500 airmen whose federal mission is to be trained and available for active duty Air Force operational missions.