The Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing is hosting Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va. are conducting dissimilar air combat training (DACT) from August 10-21 at the Portland Air National Guard Base. VFA-37’s F-18 Super Hornets are flying in collaborative exercises with the 142nd Wing’s F-15 Eagles during a two-week training event that provides realistic combat scenarios for pilots to hone advanced aerial tactics. The exercise is an essential component to ensure military readiness in support of national and state missions.
“Most people see us as a small guard presence on the side of the international airport in the pacific northwest, but our competitors are always watching. When we train with a larger scale force, particularly that of different aircraft, we are trading roles and are able to come out as more efficient pilots on the other side. This is an unforgiving environment because it’s life or death in the real world. We get up early, put in extra hours, and work on weekends because there is no such thing as a neutral outcome in our combat. The purpose of the training to make us better and to always ask, ‘how good am I, really’?,” Col. David Unruh, 142nd Wing commander said.
“When we train with the same pilots in the same aircraft, at the same base every day, we don’t get the same opportunity to see the strengths of our aircrafts, and to exploit the weaknesses of other aircrafts. We also learn how other services operate so if the time comes where we need to operate in a joint environment, the transition is more seamless. The over water ranges are larger here on the coast, which allows us to set up intercepts at ranges that are tactically significant. There are miles and miles of sterile air space so we don’t have to worry about anyone else flying around our pilots,” Lt. Cmdr. Richard Stolworthy, a Navy fighter pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron 37.
The training flights depart from, and land, at the Portland International Airport, and are conducted in approved airspace from the Oregon coastline to eastern Oregon. The need for this relevant training, it would not be possible without the willingness of everyone involved to make it happen. It’s these military members from across the country, all walks of life and backgrounds that pull it together and do what’s needed for mission readiness and accomplishment. That is what’s so impressive about the military; people will get up and put on their country’s cloth and think about making it better.