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Training to Win: 187th Participates in Sentry Savannah 17-1

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hayden Johnson
  • 187th
Eleven U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons and approximately 190 guardsmen from the 187th Fighter Wing, Montgomery Regional Air National Guard Base, Ala., participated in Sentry Savannah 17-1 Oct. 26 to Nov. 9, held at the Air Dominance Center on Savannah Air National Base, Ga.

Sentry Savannah is the Air National Guard's largest Fighter Integration, air-to-air training exercise encompassing fourth and fifth generation aircraft.

"As an F-16 unit, our lethality increases exponentially when we integrate with fifth generation assets," said Maj. Kevin "Smash" Pugh, the 187th Fighter Wing project officer for Sentry Savannah. "If called to fight in a highly contested environment, we will most likely utilize fighter integration. Sentry Savannah provides us a great opportunity to truly train the way we will fight."

Other units from Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington also took part in the exercise. Aircraft included T-38 Talon's, F-15 Eagle's, F-16 Fighting Falcon's, E-3 Sentry's, KC-135 Stratomaker's, KC-10 Extender's, and fifth generation F-22 Raptor's.

Exercises like Sentry Savannah benefit the wing by allowing more opportunity to work with fifth generation fighters, like the F-22. The wing is a candidate to receive the F-35 Lightning II fighter in the future, and the opportunity to work with other fifth generation aircraft is another step in preparing the wing.

"There are a multitude of great reasons to base the F-35 in Montgomery," Pugh said. "This exercise is yet another opportunity to showcase the professionalism of the 187th Fighter Wing, while simultaneously sharpening the skills of our pilots and maintainers."

Sentry Savannah has benefitted the unit's maintainers by allowing them to work hand-in hand with all of the other shops, said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Broome, the crew chief flight chief with the 187th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"We get to experience everyone working together as one team, one fight," Broome said. "It's a morale builder, and we get to partake and listen to the pilots talk about what they've done. We get to train our younger airmen for the mission, and we get to train our NCO's to become senior NCO's and let them have the helm and run the shifts. We're also able to watch them, mold them, and mentor them to where it'll pay forward for years to come."

Across the wing, Sentry Savannah allowed Airmen put their knowledge and skills into practice, learn more about fifth generation aircraft, and boost unit morale.

"This exercise is a boon to unit morale," Pugh said. "Maintainers have flown on tanker missions to watch us aerial refuel, and others have had the opportunity to fly in the backseat of our F-16 on incentive rides.

"Exercises such as Sentry Savannah affords every echelon of our unit the opportunity to deploy, execute, and redeploy as if it were an actual contingency operation," Pugh said. "In the process of exercising the 187th Fighter Wing's collective muscles, we gain indispensable lessons on how to do these things even better the next time."