107th FS Gains Maritime Training During Operation Northern Strike

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Michigan's Red Devils engaged in some rare maritime training during this summer's Operation Northern Strike exercise.

Working as part of a combined task force that brought together military personnel from across the Great Lakes region for a series of training scenarios, the 107th Fighter Squadron - known as the Red Devils - not only conducted a number of live fire exercises on land for the operation, but also were able to conduct joint training with a U.S. Coast Guard cutter on northern Lake Huron. During the exercise, some of the 107th FS's A-10s were based at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, located less than 10 miles from the Lake Huron shore in northern Michigan.

Flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, best known as the Warthog, 107th FS pilots worked in conjunction with the ice breaker USCGC Mackinaw and other Coast Guard assets to engage in Maritime Air Support Missions over the lake. The maritime mission presents a unique challenge to the Air Force pilots, said Lt. Col. Sean Campbell, an A-10 pilot at Selfridge.

"Most A-10 CAS (close air support) missions deal with targets on land, but in several of these scenarios, we had the opportunity to target small watercraft introducing our pilots to challenges with large waves, drifting targets -- the difficulty of finding a needle in the haystack," Campbell said.

In addition to the maritime training, the A-10 unit, which generated more than 100 sorties during the two-week exercise, conducted a number of operations at the Grayling Aerial Gunnery Range, also in northern Michigan.

The A-10s generated at Alpena were loaded with live MK-82s and Maverick missiles for training use. In addition to the live weapons loaded at Alpena, the unit also expended inert Laser Guided Bombs GBU-12s and one GBU-38.

The 107th FS A-10s coordinated with Michigan Army National Guard MH-60 helicopters over the land as well as the water to work JAAT (Joint Air Attack Team) training, including using "buddy lase" for the helicopters' Hellfire missiles and the A-10s GBU-12s.

In addition to the weapons training, 107th FS pilots also used the exercise to enhance their capabilities to operate from austere locations by increasing by 200% the number of pilots who are qualified to takeoff and landing utilizing night vision gear, through the use of the Alpena CRTC's NVG Operational capability. This training is not available at Selfridge Air National Guard Base due to the organic lighting on and around the field.

The 107th FS is a component of the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Comprised of approximately 1,600 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which is also home to units of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.