NATO AWACS conducts Strike Eagle dogfights

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A NATO E-3A Sentinel and its crew arrived at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base (NC) Aug. 8 to conduct training missions with 4th Fighter Wing aircrews.

The Sentinel, which is an Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft from Geilenkirchen, Germany, will conduct mock dogfights between the wing’s fighter aircraft. Using its trademark 30-foot exterior satellite, the AWACS aircraft will provide Strike Eagle aircrews with “enemy” positions.

“Our sole purpose is to be the eyes for the aircraft so they can be forewarned if another aircraft is in their vicinity — friend or foe,” said Capt. Gurhan Tarman, the Sentinel’s co-pilot from the Turkish Air Force.

The aircrews participating in the dogfight will separate into two teams — the good guys and the bad guys, Capt. Bruce Douglas said, a crewmember on the Sentinel.

“Hopefully, the good guys win,” he said.

The crew will stay until Aug. 27, and will help Strike Eagle aircrews in many ways, said Capt. Nicholas Suppa, assistant director of staff of the 335th Fighter Squadron.

“The greatest thing that we get from the exercise is the fact that we get face-to-face brief and debrief opportunities with one another, something that we normally do not get between ourselves and AWACS crews,” he said.

The AWACS crew consists of 23 crewmembers from 15 European and North American nations.

Staff Sgt. Jolene Curphey, a surveillance operator on the Sentinel, said flying with an international aircrew provides a great learning experience that can transfer to the battlefield.

“It’s really great to work with people from different places,” Sergeant Curphey said. “The crew learns something new with every place we go.”

The AWACS crew and Captain Suppa agree the training mission benefits both components in the long run, especially during deployments where units from different nations are called upon to fight side by side.

“The integration of our two systems is integral in our missions, and the more we are able to take from each occasion that we work together, the better we are able to execute our missions with precision,” Captain Suppa said.

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