Sentry Aloha pits fighter vs. fighter

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz
  • 154 Wing Public Affairs
Residents in Hawaii may notice an increase in fighter aircraft activity as well diversity of airframes in and around the airspaces of the state as the Hawaii Air National Guard hosts its second large-scale  "Sentry Aloha" fighter exercise of 2015.

The exercise officially begins on March 5 and is scheduled to end on Mar 19.

Sentry Aloha exercises provide the Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force and DOD counterparts a multi-faceted, joint venue, with supporting infrastructure and personnel that incorporates current, realistic, integrated training to equip the warfighter with the skill sets necessary to fly, fight and win.

"Sentry Aloha provides a pivot to the Pacific, combining fifth-generation, fighter integration training with large force employment to provide joint, total force integration between the HIANG, Air National Guard, USAF, and other DOD counterparts in a current and realistic war fighting capacity." said Acting Director of Sentry Aloha, Lt. Col Kyle Mitsumori.

Sentry Aloha exercises are hosted and conducted by the HIANG several times per year, for decades. It has been growing in size and complexity following the HIANG's conversion in 2010 to the F-22 Raptor. For this exercise, F-15 Eagles from Oregon and Florida will be participating.  The Arizona Air National Guard has F-16 Falcons,  A-10 Thunderbolts, C-130 Hercules , and a KC-135 Stratotanker taking part.  ANG KC-135 refueling tankers will also be coming from Iowa and Maine.  U.S. Naval aviators will be flying variants of the F/A-18 Hornet from California out of Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. There are a total of 45 aircraft and over 1000 servicemen from seven states participating.

"Everyone participating and supporting is professional and well-trained. The biggest challenge is the enormity of coordination required to execute complex missions and the many moving parts involved" said Mitsumori.

"Sentry Aloha is hosted by the HIANG but to be successful at this level the HIANG relies on cooperation and support from the entire Ohana: Pacific Command, Pacific Air Forces, FAA, and many other agencies to make it all work.  Success is directly related to the HIANG's ability to properly coordinate and include all players in all phases of the exercise."

The HIANG and Active Duty Intelligence divisions, in concert with combat planners develop realistic scenarios consistent with current and future world situations.  Tactical unit weapons officers contribute to provide relevant and 'tip-of-the-spear' elements for maximum training.

"What's going on is a lot of our potential enemies and near peers have invested in that same force.  They learn from us, they watched us and are now starting to invest in the way that we are," said Col. Duke Pirak, acting vice commander for Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing. "So while not commonplace at all now, large air wars will be potentially an integral part of a future war, a major battle."

Fighter dogfighting "hasn't happened on a scale that we see in these exercises -- and that's a good thing," said Pirak, explaining the conventional deterrent effect of the Air Force.

"There are a lot of folks that just simply don't want to tangle with us in that way."