SAVANNAH, Ga – Airmen and jets from the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Ma., are participating in Exercise Atlantic Spear from Aug. 14-27.
This robust training exercise is a multi-faceted event designed to test and enhance the air to air dogfighting capabilities of participating fighter pilots in a simulated combat environment. During the exercise, 104th FW pilots have the opportunity to integrate with other platforms from across the military including units from Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Oregon and California.
Exercise Atlantic Spear is being hosted at the Air Dominance Center (ADC), Savannah, Ga. Previously named the Combat Readiness Training Center, the ADC is an ideal location for large-scale fighter integration training due to its proximity to neighboring aerial units and vast coastal airspace which allows aircraft to ascend up to 60 thousand feet.
Lt. Col. David Halasi-Kun, the 131st Fighter Squadron commander, recognizes the value of this joint training.
“We are building partnerships with all the other platforms, F-18 Falcons, F22 Raptors and F-35’s. What is unique about this deployment is that we have our own exercise, Atlantic Spear and were also invited to participate in the Boar’s Nest Exercise, a relatively large air to ground scenario, ” said
Halasi-Kun. “We turned it into an air to ground and air to air joint exercise.”
Halasi-Kun also appreciates the freedom of airspace at Savannah.
“Similar to our training in Hawaii, we can operate in unrestricted airspace with no supersonic restrictions and plenty of altitude. The dimensions allow for 30 or 40 aircraft to participate and we don’t have to worry about deconflicting by time or altitude,” he said. “The ADC possesses the infrastructure to allow us to monitor the ‘battle’ and simultaneously track all the aircraft. Range training officers are on the ground making independent assessments to determine the winners of each exchange,” said Halasi-Kun.
“Savannah is a great deployment. Everything is already in place. We show up, plug in and we are integrated into the whole exercise,” he said.
These simulated dogfight exchanges are proving a rigorous test of the 104th Fighter Wing’s operational and tactical capabilities. Although, during many of these simulated engagements, 104th pilots have frequently outmaneuvered their adversaries and demonstrated a level of expertise that left little doubt as to the victor.
Exercise Atlantic Spear is also proving to be worthwhile training for the ground crew.
Tech Sgt. Greg Liptak, a member of the 104th Maintenance Group, has been impressed by the development of younger Airmen in a deployed environment. “It is great to see the next generation performing so well,” he said.
“These young Airmen are very capable and confident in their abilities. Based on what I’ve seen here and back home at Barnes, I feel good about the next generation at the 104th,” said Liptak.
The skills learned and tested at Atlantic Spear allow 104th Airmen to prepare for any contingency and enhance mission readiness.
The 104th Fighter Wing Operations Support Flight commander, Lt. Col Sean Halbrook, has found the training at the ADC to be particularly instructive given the potential for future deployments.
“We have incorporated different platforms as adversaries-F-22, F-18, F-16- in coordination with the Boar’s Nest Exercise. Intelligence has also provided us with injects to be prepared for any contingency,” said Halbrook, who serves as the project officer during the deployment.
“Atlantic Spear has been a valuable training exercise and good preparation as we gear up for upcoming deployments,” said Halbrook.