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Home | Tag Archives: holloman afb

Tag Archives: holloman afb

Special delivery: Holloman AFB’s 49th Wing new MQ-9 Reaper flown in, not shipped

Earlier this month, the 49th Wing received its first MQ-9 Reaper through flight. Typically when new MQ-9s are sent to Holloman, they are taken apart to ship and then reassembled when they arrive.

Having the aircraft ferried came with an array of benefits. Notably, maintainers did not have to spend around five full days putting it together, in turn that also meant the aircraft could be used almost immediately for training.

Another important fact was that an MQ-9 flew through the National Airspace System, something many pilots would like to see normalized.

“This is the first time that team Holloman has taken delivery of a new MQ-9 by ferry flight,” said Col. Casey Tidgewell, 49th Operations Group commander. “It’s critically important because flying outside of our training area helps normalize remotely piloted flight inside the national airspace and provides broader aviation experience for our instructors. I could not be more proud of our operations and maintenance professionals that made this happen.”

Receiving an MQ-9 from shipment, rather than ferry, comes as a disadvantage because the condition is unknown until it is out of the box, the operational checks are done and it has to be rebuilt; and then some components may even need to be replaced.

“From the maintenance point of view, we will be saving approximately 142 man-hours by not having to reassemble an aircraft after delivery,” said Master Sgt. Animesh, 29th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Lead Production Superintendent. “Ferrying the aircraft allows us to decrease the amount of man-hours it takes from 192 to a mere 50 hours to return that aircraft back to service and increase overall aircraft availability.”

Having the MQ-9 in a flyable condition when it arrives means that it can be used a lot faster to fulfill the 49th Wing’s mission of training MQ-9 aircrew.

“By increasing our aircraft assigned and making it available for the flying schedule sooner, we have more flexibility to absorb any maintenance issues that could arise to eliminate sortie attrition (or at least minimize it) and continue pressing forward with the important task of training MQ-9 aircrew for our Combat Air Forces,” said Maj. Marcus, 29th ATKS project officer.

While the 49th Wing received many benefits from having the MQ-9 ferried, they extended to the national level. When Remotely Piloted Aircraft travel through the NAS, there is extra documentation that must be obtained, such as a certificate of authorization. This is not done with other aircraft types.

The integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System is mandated by congress and is something that the Federal Aviation Association must comply with. By allowing the 49th Wing MQ-9 to ferry, they are able to complete that mission and gather data for future rules, regulations and policies as the FAA begins normalizing the use of RPAs.

“Big-picture, this lets us to further develop our relationship with the FAA,” said Master Sgt. Kevin, 29th ATKS sensor operator. “The more agreements we have with them, the more we can execute certain flight plans. It allows us to continue normalizing RPA ops within the NAS”

The process was swift but not smooth and could not have been accomplished without the help of everyone involved. Months went into planning the ferry flight but it took three days from activing that plan to getting the MQ-9 here at Holloman AFB. There were many different sections that were integral to the success of this mission.

“I just want to emphasize that it was an entire 49th Wing effort in coordination with other units and agencies,” said Maj. Marcus, 29th ATKS project officer.

“Locally, we had great support from the communications squadron, aircraft maintenance group, weather flight, base operations, and our fellow launch and recovery team. Additionally, we relied heavily upon the MQ-9 development flight test, detachment 3 in California to prepare the aircraft for flight, as well as us coordinating the route ahead of time with air traffic control personnel in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and White Sands Missile Range. This process was not without its challenges and roadblocks but together as team, we adapted and overcame them! Everyone involved in this process was vital to getting the MQ-9 here at Holloman AFB safely and they should be just as proud of this accomplishment as we are here at the 29th Attack Squadron”

Some of the team who were directly involved the MQ-9 Reaper ferrying mission posed with the aircraft, Jan. 9, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from the communications squadron, aircraft maintenance unit, and the 29th Attack Squadron were some of the members who ensured the success of ferrying an MQ-9 from California to Holloman. | U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt

Author: Airman Autumn Vogt – 49th Wing Public Affairs

Gallery+Story: Holloman hosts Military Working Dog training

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The relentless sun pierced the yellow sand and rows of small run-down buildings. An Airmen is pulled through one of the green door frames into an empty room by his panting K-9 partner. Their eyes are drawn to a furry, lifeless figure in the corner.

“It looks like your dog fell and injured his leg, what needs to be done now?” asked a veterinary technician.

The Airmen dropped his backpack full of medical supplies and sprang into action, taking out a wooden splint and cloth to provide care. The lifeless figure in need of assistance was a Jerry K-9 CPR manikin, used for practicing first aid techniques on a dog.

The 49th Security Forces Squadron Military Working dog trainers performed this handler lane training with U.S. Army veterinarian technicians from Fort Bliss, Texas. They simulated medically assisting their dogs in multiple scenarios that can take place in a deployed environment.

This training is done approximately twice a year to keep both the handlers and veterinarians sharp on their skills.

Members from the Holloman Veterinary Treatment Facility also conduct quarterly medical training with the MWD handlers. This portion of the training mainly consists of Powerpoint presentations instead of exercises.

“What we did was a dual training for them where they were practicing their detection, searching areas and sniffing bombs,” said U.S. Army Spc. Madison Jenkins, VTF noncommissioned officer in charge. “Then we would add emergency scenarios for the handlers, which required providing medical care for their dog.”

The mock deployment area allows the handlers and dogs to run through scenarios that could happen downrange, such as a broken leg or a spider bite, and simulate providing medical assistance to the dog while maintaining combat readiness in case of a threat.

Staff Sgt. Dennis Kim, 49 SFS MWD trainer, added that the stress handlers undergo during the exercises, are sensed by the dogs as well; and it is good to expose both to these situations in preparation for real deployments.

Although the MWD teams are emphasized during the training, the veterinarians gain experience as well.

According to Jenkins the training is invaluable for newly qualified veterinarians, and although deployments are very rare in the career field, they are not impossible.

“It’s important that they are ready in the event that they do deploy with the dog, or if an emergency occurs with a dog in-garrison,” said Jenkins. “It’s also helpful to learn and then teach somebody, it kind of solidifies it a little bit more for them.”

Since the veterinarians rarely deploy with MWD’s, handlers will take their dog to a human medic in the event of an emergency downrange. Even though these medics receive training, it is important for the handlers to be knowledgeable as well.

Jenkins stressed that the first few moments of a crisis before visiting a medic can be the difference between life and death for the dog, and with all the responsibilities of being a MWD handler and police officer, the additional knowledge of medical procedures can be difficult.

“It’s a lot to know for sure,” said Jenkins. “But it’s unfortunately just part of being a handler, they have taken on the responsibility of this very expensive living equipment. There are dogs deploying from here on a regularly basis, and it’s a constant cycle. So it is important that they are prepared.”

Author: Airman 1st Class Quion Lowe – 49th Wing Public Affairs  

Holloman’s 8th Fighter Squadron Reactivated after Six Years

A pilot strides forward, his green flight suit a stark contrast to the pale blue of a desert morning sky. An insignia, circled in gold and donning a sheep with a wool coat black as night, is stitched atop his right breast.

He hikes up a ladder, hands gripping steel and hops into the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Black Sheep have returned.

The 8th Fighter Squadron was reactivated at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 4, 2017, six years after its last inactivation May 13, 2011, as part of the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, took command of the 8th FS at an activation ceremony led by Col. James Keen, 54th Fighter Group commander, who remarked on the Black Sheep’s future under Sletten’s management.

“I have no doubt that the proud heritage of the Black Sheep will continue here at Holloman under the leadership of [Sletten],” Keen said. “[Sletten] is a man with incredible core values, who is people-oriented, professional and a credible tactician. These traits are paramount to the mission of the 56th Fighter Wing, which is to build a future of air power by leading the Air Force in developing Airmen and training fighter pilots.”

The squadron, first activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan, Jan. 16, 1941, as part of the 49th Pursuit Group, has maintained and piloted various styles of aircraft under an ever-evolving mission.

Such aircraft including the P-40 Warhawk, the P-38 Lightning, the F-117 Nighthawk and most recently, the F-22 Raptor, were utilized throughout World War II, the Korean Conflict and in parts of Southeast and Southwest Asia.

“In July 1968, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to Holloman after several European assignments,” said Arlan Ponder, 49th Wing director of media operations and former base historian assistant. “From May through October 1972, the 8th was deployed to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand for combat operations. While in Southeast Asia, the 8th flew air interdiction and close air support missions. They received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation with a combat Valor device for their participation in Vietnam.”

In continuation of its colorful history, the 8th FS will now maintain and pilot F-16 fighter jets, with its sister squadrons, the 311th FS and 314th FS here.

According to Sletten, more than 40 F-16 fighter jets are projected to be transported to Holloman, which is almost double the amount of aircraft currently stationed here. An influx of personnel will accompany these aircraft, including approximately 600 contracted maintainers and nearly 60 Airmen.

This historic event comes at a unique time as the Air Force is currently experiencing a fighter pilot shortage.

According to Lt. Gen. Gina M. Grosso, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel Services, who testified on the pilot shortage before the House Armed Services subcommittee on Military Personnel in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2017, this crisis is the result of several factors, including high operational tempo over the past two decades and a demand for Air Force pilots from commercial industries.

To alleviate this issue, Sletten said the 8th FS is dedicated to generating new F-16 fighter pilots and requalifying former F-16 fighter pilots as part of a production effort.

“Our mission is to build the future of air power and to lead the Air Force in developing Airmen while training F-16 fighter pilots,” Sletten said. “My goal is to produce Airmen and fighter pilots who are first and foremost, professionals, and who are lethal and passionate when it comes to their craft.”

In alignment with this mission, Sletten aims to honor and build upon the 8th FS’s legacy while reinvigorating the enthusiasm and passion of his Airmen.

“I am very excited to be leading the Black Sheep of the 8th FS,” Sletten said. “It is a privilege very few people have and a great responsibility–one I do not take lightly. I cannot wait to start contributing in tangible ways to the overall mission of the Air Force while instilling pride and excitement in the young men and women who are working for me.”

Editor’s note: Information from THIS related article was used in this publication. 

Author: Airman 1st Class Alexis P. Docherty, 49th Wing Public Affairs 

Holloman AFB to house Central American refugee children

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. – Beginning in mid-January, Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico will become the temporary home for about 400 refugee children from Central America. The Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies are in charge of the program, a result of the recent increase in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States.

Mike Espritu, director of the Chamber of Commerce in nearby Alamogordo, said local groups are getting ready to assist when the children arrive.

“We’ve already had one meeting with some local leaders and it appears the community is willing to do what it can, to do what’s right for the children,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s going to take care of those young people, no matter who they are.”

At Holloman, an HHS spokeswoman said, the children will be provided with food, health care and a place to sleep. The goal will be to help them locate relatives in the United States or put them in temporary foster care. They eventually will be given court hearings to decide if they can stay in the country.

Espritu said he is aware that other refugee facilities have drawn protests and controversy, but he hopes to avoid that.

“One of my goals is to be extremely transparent with our community and those around the nation that are watching,” he said. “My goal is to get the word out there, because we’re not keeping any secrets.”

He said Holloman officials are remodeling what used to be the 4th Space Surveillance Squadron building to house the refugees. Officials say children will begin arriving around Jan. 15, and they have no timeline for how long the facility will be needed.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service

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