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F-15 Eagles
SOUTHWEST ASIA - An F-15 Eagle taxis prior to a training sortie Feb. 22, 2012. The 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, flies with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. Their mission is both deterrence as part of the defense of the Arabian Gulf, and training with partners in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Arian Nead)
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F-15s fly deterrence, training missions in Southwest Asia

Posted 3/5/2012   Updated 3/5/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

3/5/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA  -- In the history of the F-15 Eagle, its pilots have downed 104 enemy planes. They've never lost an air-to-air fight.

So naturally Eagle crews are an obvious choice for the dual missions they have at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing: prevention and preparation.

The planes have a constant presence with the 380th AEW, with different squadrons swapping out every few months. The 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, currently carries the baton for the Eagle community. The commander, Lt. Col. Joel Carey, said his squadron has embraced its current mission sets.

Because of the F-15's reputation of air superiority, it's a deterrent to any potential adversary.

"Its record speaks for itself," said Carey, a Midlothian, Texas native. "If you go up against an F-15, chances are you aren't going to win. It was made for air dominance and dominate the air is what it does."

Should the F-15 pilots ever have to engage an air-to-air threat, it's likely they won't do it alone. The second part of their deployed mission is to train with other air forces in the region.

"There are a lot of potential adversaries out there and if we ever get called, it's good to know that we've built partnerships to go to war with us," said 1st Lt. Josh Gunderson, a Tampa, Fla., native.

The Eagle pilots primarily train with the host nation air force where they're currently deployed, an undisclosed location in the Southwest Asia. They routinely fly a variety of mock air battles both with and against their counterparts.

Because the host nation air force flies a variety of airframes, the pilots get the chance to hone an assortment of tactics based on what planes are participating.

"Sometimes we fly two (versus) two, four (versus) four and we've even done large force employments where we have 40 jets in the air at the same time," explained Capt. Adam Gaudinski, a Philadelphia native. "We take turns flying as red air - bad guys - or blue air, which are coalition forces. When flying as red air, we actually adopt tactics of other countries. It makes for a more realistic training experience."

The biggest challenges for the pilots are cultural and language barriers between them and their host nation counterparts. The more they work together, however, the better each side gets at bridging those gaps, said Capt. Tyler Marsh.

"Coming out here has given us the chance to dispel a lot of the misconceptions we had about the people in the Middle East," said Marsh, a Central City, Neb., native. "It's been a great opportunity for us to build relationships with the host nation because we'll continue to work together. We've gotten to know each other as people and a lot of that carries over into the mission.

"After all," Marsh added, "better friendships outside the cockpit make for better wingmen in the air."

7/3/2014 11:49:28 PM ET
Kadena looks mighty flat and sandy and not nearly green enough are you sure you got the description right
Abbas, Pakistan
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