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173rd FW beats storm, flies in Arizona

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zach Vaughan examines a broken hydraulics line during TDY operations at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., where the 173rd Fighter Wing traveled to support dissimilar air combat operations, Jan. 12-24. Maintenance personnel kept aircraft flying throughout the two-week stay by making repairs like this one on the ramp with parts brought from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zach Vaughan, a crew chief with the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., signals the F-15 pilot that the wheel chalks are in place curing preparation for taxi to the runway while in in Tucson, Ariz., Jan 17, 2020. The wing brought five F-15 aircraft and nearly 90 people to help the 162nd Fighter Wing train fledgling F-16 pilots for two weeks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Hernandez, a 173rd Fighter Wing Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, cleans a helmet following a sortie by one of the instructor pilots during a trip to Tucson, Ariz., for dissimilar air combat training, Jan. 12-24. The wing brought five F-15 aircraft and nearly 90 people to help the 162nd Fighter Wing train fledgling F-16 pilots for two weeks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Hernandez, a 173rd Fighter Wing Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, cleans a helmet following a sortie by one of the instructor pilots during a trip to Tucson, Ariz., for dissimilar air combat training, Jan. 12-24. The wing brought five F-15 aircraft and nearly 90 people to help the 162nd Fighter Wing train fledgling F-16 pilots for two weeks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tannin Aguiar, a non-destructive inspection technician at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., takes an oil sample from one of the F-15 engines during temporary duty to Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 21, 2020. The wing brought five F-15 aircraft and nearly 90 people to help the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., train fledgling F-16 pilots for two weeks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Staff Sgt. Stephen Thinnes, an engine shop mechanic at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., conducts a maintenance engine run on an F-15 aircraft during a trip to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 15, 2020. Engine mechanics are qualified to start and run the powerful engines in order to test newly installed components. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Nalepa, an instructor pilot with the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., readies his aircraft for a training mission in Tucson, Ariz. in support of the 162nd Fighter Wing, Jan. 15, 2020. The F-15s help aspiring F-16 pilots by providing dissimilar air combat training or DACT, which better prepares them for operations in the operational Air Force. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zach Vaughan, a 173rd Fighter Wing crew chief, readies a jet for launch during operations at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 15, 2020. The 173rd Fighter Wing brought five aircraft to the Arizona base to support training for the F-16 Basic Course student pilots. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Harris, a 173rd Fighter Wing crew chief, refills the oxygen bottle aboard an F-15 using a portable liquid oxygen system, during travel to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. Liquid Oxygen is a cryogenic liquid with a temperature lower than negative 130-degrees, making skin contact dangerous due to freezing burns, hence the heavy protective gear. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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Two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles taxi back to the ramp area under the iconic skyline of Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2020. The 173rd Fighter Wing Airmen made the trip to the Arizona base to assist the 162nd Fighter Wing train aspiring F-16 pilots enrolled in their B-Course. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kurt Duffy, an F-15 instructor pilot with the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., checks maintenance logs before takeoff while visiting the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., Jan 14, 2020. The F-15s help aspiring F-16 pilots by providing dissimilar air combat training or DACT, which better prepares them for duty in the operational Air Force. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. George Mulleneix, the 173rd Fighter Wing senior member of the enlisted force for the travel to the 162nd Fighter Wing, watches early morning operations during training at the Tucson, Ariz. base, Jan. 15, 2020. The F-15s help aspiring F-16 pilots by providing dissimilar air combat training or DACT, which better prepares them for duty in the operational Air Force. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tim Ross, a 173rd Fighter Wing Avionics technician, wipes a panel down after a surprise hydraulic leak required fixing on the ramp at the 162nd Fighter Wing during a temporary duty for dissimilar air combat operations or DACT, Jan. 23, 2020. Maintenance personnel kept aircraft flying throughout the two-week stay by making repairs like this one on the ramp with parts brought from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Sanchez, an electrical and environmental technician with the 173rd Fighter Wing, looks for the source of a surprise hydraulic leak after removing a panel during a TDY to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., Jan 12-24. Maintenance personnel kept aircraft flying throughout the two-week stay by making repairs like this one on the ramp with parts brought from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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Members of the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., return from the ramp after launching F-15 Eagles at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., during a TDY to support F-16 pilot training operations Jan. 12-24, 2020. The wing flew dissimilar air combat training sorties for two weeks, repairing aircraft as-needed on the ramp and freeing up a significant number of seats for the Arizona unit to train aspiring F-16 pilots. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joel Scott, a crew chief with the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., signals a pilot to hold the brakes on his F-15 aircraft while weapons crews arm the aircraft for it’s training mission over the skies of Arizona, Jan. 21, 2020. Kingsley Field personnel traveled to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., to support dissimilar air combat operations for two weeks Jan. 12-24, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Col. Geoff Jensen, the 173rd Operations Group commander at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., signals the crew chief that he is about to fire the engines on an F-15 aircraft during DACT operations at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 21, 2020. Kingsley Field personnel traveled to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., to support dissimilar air combat operations for two weeks Jan. 12-24, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle takes off into the cloudy Tucson, Ariz. sky during dissimilar air combat training operations with the 162nd Fighter Wing, Jan. 21, 2020. For two weeks the 173rd Fighter Wing flew the adversary air portions of sorties for the F-16 pilot training operations freeing up cockpit space for more student training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle taxis to the runway during temporary duty operations in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 21, 2020. For two weeks the 173rd Fighter Wing flew the adversary air portions of sorties for the F-16 pilot training operations freeing up cockpit space for more student training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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Two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle’s from the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., taxi after a pair of 162nd Fighter Wing F-16s as they head for the runway for dissimilar air combat operations during a TDY to Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 12-24. For two weeks the 173rd Fighter Wing flew the adversary air portions of sorties for the F-16 pilot training operations freeing up cockpit space for more student training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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Two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle’s take to the skies over Tucson, Ariz., during a trip to supply dissimilar air combat platform to aspiring F-16 pilots at the 162nd Fighter Wing, Jan. 21, 2020. For two weeks the 173rd Fighter Wing flew the adversary air portions of sorties for the F-16 pilot training operations freeing up cockpit space for more student training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Ingerson, a crew chief with the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., signals F-15 ground crew to keep the wheel chalks in place before the pilot gets the word to taxi to the runway, Jan. 17, 2020. The wing brought five F-15 aircraft and nearly 90 people to help the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., train fledgling F-16 pilots for two weeks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

Tucson DACT
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U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Bouma, the commander for the deployed 173rd Fighter Wing maintenance Airmen, climbs into the cockpit of a waiting F-15 in preparation for flying training operations in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 20, 2020. The wing brought five F-15 aircraft and nearly 90 people to help the 162nd Fighter Wing train fledgling F-16 pilots for two weeks. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Just ahead of the heaviest winter storm of the season, a contingent of 173rd Fighter Wing Airmen and F-15-C aircraft made their way to warmer climes for continued flying operations.

Nearly 90 Airmen and five F-15-C aircraft traveled over 1,000 miles to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Arizona, for dissimilar air combat training, or DACT.

The two wings have been flying together for years and take advantage of complimentary weather in both summer and winter. Kingsley Field makes this trip in the winter when flying in the southern tier is optimal, and the 162nd FW makes its way north in the summer when excessive heat can keep aircraft on the ground.

“It’s incredibly beneficial for us because the weather back in Kingsley is not particularly awesome; last week namely we didn’t turn a single wheel but down here we flew 16 sorties,” said Capt. Joshua Prochaska, the project officer for the trip. Although Klamath Falls boasts excellent flying weather with 300 days of sunshine a year, there are times like this week where snowfall limits flying until the runway is cleared and operations resume.

The trip also provides significant benefit to the Tucson unit.

“It’s also great for them because they get to fight with a dissimilar platform, most of their training is basically F-16 versus F-16 so with us they get to fight eagles,” he said.

The 162nd Fighter Wing’s mission is to train aspiring F-16 drivers, which is a counterpart to the Kingsley Field mission of training F-15 Eagle pilots. When other units visit it is welcome because we free up more cockpits to fly students.

“It provides them with the opportunity to fly more lines because we are flying the adversary air portion of the sortie for them,” or in other words the simulated “bad guy” normally flown by an instructor pilot in a unit F-16. “So they can turn more sorties with us here,” said Prochaska.

Long known as a haven from the wintry mix of the northern tier, Arizona provides excellent winter flying and an unsurprising respite for the Airmen who made the trip.

“The best part honestly, the weather down here is fantastic, low 70s and sunny almost every single day,” said Prochaska. He also said it’s a good time to rub shoulders with other Airmen who you don’t usually interface with on a daily basis.

And although everyone enjoyed the mild weather another, there is another compelling reason for this travel and other trips the wing makes. In an increasingly expeditionary Air Force the skills required to pick up operations and fly need sharpening. For maintainers this trip required careful planning and packing to try and anticipate what issues might arise for the jets. Aircrew flight equipment had to pack everything necessary for outfitting pilots with safety and survival gear and organizers had to plan for room and board for nearly 90 people—all things that wartime taskings require.

“It’s been amazing for us to come down here and do everything so seamlessly I just think it speaks to the work ethic of a lot of people in this unit that we’re able to do this in such a smooth and timely fashion,” he added. “It’s been an outstanding experience.”