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114th Fighter Wing trains with AWACS reserve squadron

A 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System lands during a joint training exercise with the 114th Fighter Wing at Joe Foss Field, South Dakota, Aug. 15, 2020. The joint training allowed AWACS pilots, maintainers and operators to work directly with F-16 pilots and maintainers to maintain mission readiness.

A 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System lands during a joint training exercise with the 114th Fighter Wing at Joe Foss Field, South Dakota, Aug. 15, 2020. The joint training allowed AWACS pilots, maintainers and operators to work directly with F-16 pilots and maintainers to maintain mission readiness.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron and 513th Maintenance Group reserve Airmen from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, trained with the 114th Fighter Wing at Joe Foss Field in South Dakota Aug. 15-16. Pilots, maintainers and operators of the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) worked with F-16 pilots and maintainers.

“We’re having to work in a different environment,” said Master Sgt. Chris Parker, an aircraft structural maintainer of the 513th Maintenance Squadron. “This is as close as we can get to being deployed.”

The AWACS aircrew and F-16 pilots got a rare chance to work with each other directly. The 513th maintainers also got a chance to work in an unfamiliar environment.

The E-3 Sentry AWACS is a modified Boeing 707/320 with a rotating radar dome attached to the top of the aircraft by two 11-foot struts.

“It is a command and control platform that operates anywhere in the world,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Burch, an evaluator warfare officer of the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron.

The radar provides surveillance that ranges from the ground surface to the stratosphere, as well as in water. The operators can transmit the information gathered from the radar to pilots and other allies.

During their training exercise, the AWACS aircrew members provided and coordinated situational awareness of activity to the F-16 pilots while in flight.

“We’re all still required to be adaptable in whatever environment,” said Burch, “This is a great opportunity to get training for that.”

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