Bringing the Land of No Slack to Hawaii for Sentry Luau 2024

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Emily Copeland
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Approximately 90 Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. took to the skies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam, Hawaii for exercise Sentry Luau.

Team Kingsley Airmen worked directly with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing and the 19th Fighter Squadron to play “Red Air” and “Blue Air” with their F-22 Raptors. This friendly and adversarial play allows the jets to hone their skills while flying with other airframes that are not stationed alongside the Hawaiian Raptors.

While similar to the more well-known exercise, Sentry Aloha, Sentry Luau was created specifically to test the capabilities of the F-22 Raptors against the grandfather of fighter jets, the F-15, within the Pacific Air Force domain. 

“The integration of fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft is key to expanding the Air Force’s capabilities in real world situations and to be prepared to fight against any given aircraft,” said Maj. Jacoby McCoy, 173rd FW Sentry Luau project officer.  “The F-15s were able to provide robust red air threat replication that they are unable to produce organically from within their squadron.”

He went on to add that the F-15s delivered invaluable basic fighter maneuver training replicating “high off boresight heat threat”, meaning threats that are at a long distance and out of direct visual range.

During Sentry Luau, the F-15s were able to complete more than 100 flying hours and 68 sorties, without any major maintenance issues during the exercise.  

“The professionalism and capabilities of the Airmen working in maintenance led to a 100% flight generation success rate during the exercise,” said 1st Lt. Bryce Balin, 173rd FW maintenance officer in charge. “To those who don’t know, this is a very impressive feat when working with older aircraft, and in addition to the line success, the maintainers were able to help exceed the amount of scheduled familiarization flights that occurred in Hawaii.”

Alongside the training flights, approximately 20 Airmen also had the opportunity to participate in familiarization flights in the backseat of the F-15 Eagles. This experience allowed Airmen who performed excellent work throughout the year to experience firsthand the culmination of their efforts in the flight of a lifetime over the turquoise waters of the Hawaiian Islands. 

“I am particularly proud of all of the Airmen who stepped in to not only complete their own jobs, but also to fill in and work together for other career fields that needed assistance,” said Balin. “This may be the one of the few exercises the Kingsley F-15s have left to participate in, and this trip has been a true testament to our wing’s capabilities that no matter what aircraft we fly we are getting the job done.” 

McCoy was quick to applaud the team effort that went into accomplishing Sentry Luau.

“This exercise took the work and experience of all different types of careers, from finance, planning, aircrew flight equipment, maintenance, and flight operations,” he said.  “Logistically, the work involved to support a large temporary duty exercise takes an incredible amount of home station planning as well as coordination with the gaining unit. For the two-week TDY, Kingsley Airmen worked to get the planes off the ground and into the fight without delay.”