Total Force at work in RIMPAC

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
  • Air Force News Agency
Seven F-15 fighter jets assigned to the Hawaii Air National Guard fired AIM-7 Sparrow missiles at drones dropped from a Navy F-18 yesterday. Pilots fired the missiles in the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, as part of the 2006 Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC).

RIMPAC brought friendly forces from the Pacific theater and the United Kingdom together to engage in air and sea war games.

The opportunity to fire live ordnance in Hawaii doesn’t come often. Crews usually travel to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, for firing practice. However, even then the missiles they use are loaded with telemetry equipment rather than live ordnance.

“We had the option to either destroy or shoot 14 missiles,” said Major John Traettino, an F-15 pilot with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron. “It’s actually less expensive to shoot the missiles as opposed to destroying them. It’s excellent training for us as pilots and controllers. It’s just a fantastic opportunity for the Hawaii Air National Guard.”

These days a training exercise that saves money is like gold. The Air Force’s Smart Ops 21 strategy challenges Airmen at all levels to look for value-added opportunities just like this.

But saving money while getting valuable wartime training is just part of the benefit of these sorties. This mission also demonstrated the Total Force concept the Air Force is perfecting–Air National Guard operations seamlessly integrating into active duty missions. The Pacific Command’s RIMPAC exercise provided the framework to showcase that cooperation.

As pilots locked on the targets and fired the missiles, they were certainly getting wartime training. But they were also saving the government money and demonstrating the efficiency of the Total Force.