Stingers Travel to Alpena to Train
By Staff Sgt. John Wilkes, 180th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 27, 2016
Alpena, Michigan -- Airmen with the 180th Fighter Wing in Swanton, Ohio embarked on a simulated deployment to Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Alpena, Michigan June 19, through June 25, 2016.
The purpose of this deployment is to simulate and assess the ability of the 180FW to prepare and generate aircraft, fly those aircraft to a deployed location and set up in preparation for flying combat operations.
"This training tests the wing's real world federal mission of providing effective combat power to combatant commanders," said Col. Craig Baker, commander of the 180FW.
The increased operational tempo in Alpena provides an opportunity to assess the 180FW's ability to conduct surge operations similar to what is experienced in a deployed combat scenario. All aspects of the exercise, such as preparation, execution and breakdown are evaluated by the 180FW inspector general office. At the conclusion of the evaluation, each section is assigned a rating to determine their effectiveness throughout the exercise.
"There are 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons flying approximately 30 sorties per day," said Capt. Roy Poor, an F-16 pilot with the 180FW. "Alpena is a great place to come and train, the location is very convenient so we have more time and fuel to use for training instead of flying all the way from Toledo."
During two days of flying, more than 6,000 rounds of 22mm ammunition were fired and 70,000 pounds of munitions dropped at the Grayling Aerial Gunnery Range, not far from Alpena. Maintenance and munitions personnel also played a key role in the success of the exercise.
"All sorties and training events went as planned," said Poor. "The Airmen with munitions, maintenance and everyone that works on the flightline are to credit for that."
When flying a high number of sorties, normal wear and tear, as well as exposure to the elements, can cause parts of the aircraft to break down, leading to performance issues and safety hazards.
"We are responsible for minor discrepancies like wire abrasions, to major discrepancies like landing gear problems," said Airman Matthew Breeds, a phase dock crew chief with the 180FW maintenance group.
"If an aircraft reaches 400 flight hours there are more in depth checks that take place," Breeds continued. "There are a lot of maintenance hours that go into keeping the aircraft safe and flying."
"Overall, the training has been going well," said Poor. "This is a great geographical location that offers valuable training for everyone with the 180FW."
The Alpena CRTC is one of four training installations of its kind in the country and is home to the largest airspace east of the Mississippi.
The Grayling Range has 147,000 acres available for ground maneuver units and consists of a joint use maneuver and impact range space with more than 200 live and dry targets.
In addition to the exercise, Airmen with the 180FW completed their annual ancillary training.
"The most effective, efficient and innovative way to meet the requirements of ancillary training is with an opportunity to complete it in mass," said Col. Craig R. Baker, 180th FW commander.
The 180FW supports world-wide contingencies, deploying more than 300 Airmen both overseas and in-garrison. The unparalleled performance of the maintenance and corrosion control Airmen plays a huge part in the success and operational readiness of the 180FW and Airmen.