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Alabama's 187th Fighter Wing Doubles Size of Primary Airspace

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matthew Garrett
  • 187th Public Affairs
The training airspace utilized by the 187th Fighter Wing, technically referred as Military Operating Area (MOA), will nearly double in size on as of July 23, 2015.  The new Red Tail MOA will connect two existing fighter aircraft training areas-- the Camden Ridge/Pine Hill operating area in the middle of the state between Selma and Coffeeville and the Birmingham 1 and 2 operating areas in the north that exists just south of Tuscaloosa. The combined operating areas, over 100 miles from southwest to northeast corners, will provide a much larger volume of airspace and long range air-to-air, high altitude, supersonic intercepts that are vital for fifth generation fighter aircraft like the F-35 Lightning.

Approval for the increased airspace required collaboration with every major airline company, Atlanta Center and Federal Aviation Administration. "There will be little or no effect on commercial air travel," said Lt. Col. Christopher Germann, 100th Fighter Squadron Standards and Evaluations Chief, who is also a fighter pilot for the 187th Fighter Wing.

"Before the Red Tail MOA, we would have to fly further for long range air-to-air, supersonic training. With the MOA being 40 miles away, we are saving taxpayer money by using less fuel" said Germann. The Red Tail MOA will allow fighter pilots to train at supersonic speeds from 32,000ft to 50,000ft above the ground across the entire 100 mile range of the airspace without any environmental impact to the population below. Historically, the pilots would fly more than 200 miles for similar training opportunities over the Gulf of Mexico.

While the 187th Fighter Wing will be one of the primary users, the MOA will also be available for other military units, serving four states. The airspace will support training for Eglin AFB, Valparaiso, Fla., Tyndall AFB, Panama City Beach, Fla., Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Ala., Naval Air Station Meridian, Meridian, Miss, Birmingham Air National Guard Base (ANGB), Birmingham, Ala. and the New Orleans ANGB, New Orleans, La.  The airspace can accommodate a diverse range of military aircraft, such as the U.S. Navy's T-45 Goshawk and the U.S. Air Force's T-1 Jayhawk, KC-135 Stratotanker, F-15 Eagle, F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.

The Red Tail MOA gets its name in honor of its heritage. The historic 100th Fighter Squadron at the 187th Fighter Wing was activated in 2007 to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, the 100th Fighter Squadron was one of the four original Tuskegee Airmen squadrons that would paint their aircraft with distinctive markings of bright red tails to make them easily identifiable to allies.