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173rd FW forced to cancel Sentry Eagle exercise and Open House

Sentry Eagle

The Sentry Eagle Open House attracts more than 10,000 spectators who come to see visiting fighter aircraft as well as demonstration team performances, unfortunately with the ongoing specter of COVID-19 crowds like this render it unsafe to host the exercise in July 2020. The next exercise is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2020 at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore., following extensive ramp and airfield construction projects are complete. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Penny Snoozy)

Sentry Eagle

Every two years the 173rd Fighter Wing hosts one of the largest air-to-air exercises in the Air National Guard featuring an open house where the community is invited to the base to watch large numbers of aircraft take off toward the range as well as enjoy an open house with static displays and demonstration flights. Unfortunately efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 preclude having crowds as well as bringing in aircrews from around the country forcing the wing to cancel the exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

The 173rd Fighter Wing was forced to cancel the 17th Sentry Eagle air-to-air combat exercise scheduled for July as well as the accompanying Open House. 

“I regret to inform you of this, as we all look forward to this outstanding event for Kingsley Field and the community,” said Col. Jeff Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander.  

The decision to cancel the exercise and Open House came after weeks of discussions primarily focused on COVID-19.  Kingsley Field commanders and the Sentry Eagle project officer, Lt. Col. Adam Gaudinski, determined there were significant risks in hosting the public and other military units while adhering to Governor Brown’s Executive Orders and Department of Defense policy regarding COVID-19.

“Cancelling Sentry Eagle 2020 is not something that we wanted to do, but ultimately, the decision was made with the best interest of the 173rd Fighter Wing and our local community in mind,” said Gaudinski.  “The unified resolve of Kingsley Field and Klamath Falls is unbreakable. I speak on behalf of all the men and women of the 173rd Fighter Wing when I say this, Kingsley Field resides in the greatest, most supportive community by far. Thank you.”

One of the Air National Guard’s largest air-to-air exercises, Sentry Eagle provides an arena for fighter pilots from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines to train to the demands of modern warfare—all of the armed services flying as one team in order to meet combat objectives. Sentry Eagle provides the rare opportunity to practice that integration.

“Sentry Eagle 2020 had 84 aircraft scheduled to participate with squadrons from the USAF, Navy, Army, and Marines, 18 units comprised of over 1,100 people, numerous special operations warriors, and an electronic warfare range to test our best combat aviators executing in a joint and integrated exercise,” said Guadinski of the exercise. He added that these plans will help lay the foundation for an expanded exercise tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2022.

Sentry Eagle is typically held every two years and was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2019.  However, construction projects on the ramp, flight line, and across the base prevented it from happening, and will likely delay the event again until 2022.

“I am extremely grateful to all those who helped in planning for Sentry Eagle, including our community partners,” said Edwards.  “Your efforts provide an outstanding foundation as we look forward to planning for Sentry Eagle in 2022.”