Hawaii Air National Guard ready to host largest ever aerial war - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Air National Guard ready to host largest ever aerial war games

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Every week, skilled pilots with the Hawaii Air National Guard suit up for air to air combat drills in the most advanced stealth fighter jet in the world, the F-22.  It's all to stay sharp, so that in the event there's a threat in Hawaii's skies, or anywhere in the world, they're able to take-off at a moment's notice.

Come next week Thursday, the Hawaii pilots will be tested even more in aerial war games called "Sentry Aloha". With more than 10 air squadrons participating, it'll be the largest one ever.

"We have 8 F-16s from Toledo, Ohio and we have 10 F-15s from Barnes, Massachusetts," said Commander of the 199th Fighter Squadron Lt. Col. Mark "Odie" Ladtkow.

Additional F-22s from Alaska, plus air crews from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines will all converge on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam from March 6th through the 20th.

Ladtkow says it's a scaled down version of "Red Flag", the Superbowl of aerial combat training.

There'll be as many as 30 aircraft up in the air at a time consisting of fighter jets, tankers and cargo planes.

"When we have this many airplanes involved, it makes it much more complex, it makes it much more robust, so that we get more of the real feel of a war time environment and what really could go on," said Ladtkow.

There will be fighter jet air battles, mid-air re-fueling, heavy equipment drops and special opps forces jumping out of planes to practice securing a location.

"It benefits us by training with other pilots and the aircraft that come down," said F-22 Crew Chief, Brandon Gapol.

This large scale exercise won't be the only first. For the first time, the Hawaii Raptors will be operating out of their newly built, state of the art operations center ahead of the official ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for April.

"It's going to be housing all the participants in the exercises upcoming in March," said Ladtkow.

For now, crews are working on last minute preparations with the visiting squadrons.

"So that when they reach here, they're ready and set to execute for their exercise," said Tech Sergeant Chambray Macalino.

"The more you practice, the better you get," said Ladtkow.

So with all the aircraft coming to Hawaii, what about the noise factor? Ladtkow says except for the occasional take-offs and landings during the day, noise shouldn't be an issue because the war games will be taking place far off the shoreline.

 

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