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177th Fighter Wing utilizing new airspace for training

An image of a New Jersey Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon flying.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 177th Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor Township N.J., performs a flyover May 12, 2020, across various locations in the tri-state area. The New Jersey Air National Guard units conducted a joint flyover as part of #AirForceSalutes in an effort to honor healthcare workers, first responders, mortuary affairs and other essential personnel who are working on the front lines to combat COVID-19. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Cristina J. Allen)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J.-- The 177th Fighter Wing will be utilizing new airspace over the Atlantic City International Airport for training purposes starting in November 2020.

The newly utilized airspace was primarily used by the 177FW for landing purposes but will now be used for various training missions.

“The 177th Fighter Wing will be using the airspace in preparation for both future deployments, as well as our local homeland defense and training mission.” said Col. Derek B. Routt, 177 FW Operations Group commander.

The training involves communicating with ground forces to help accomplish various missions over land.

“Primarily, it will be used to train both pilots and Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTACs) in two missions, close air support and search and rescue,” said Routt. “The close air support mission involves aircraft working closely with JTACs and other friendly personnel on the ground who will call in support from the overhead aircraft in order to accomplish objectives for the Ground Forces Commander. The search and rescue mission involves aircraft overhead helping find personnel on the ground who are in danger or in enemy territory and are in need of rescue, and then conducting coordination for their safe recovery.”

The 177 FW has previously used training airspace that is typically over bodies of water. This new airspace provides new terrain over land for 177 FW pilots to train over.

“This airspace presents the unique opportunity to safely train to the above mission sets in an urban environment,” said Routt. “Many of our other training airspaces are isolated or over the ocean, and do not realistically represent the scenarios our ground forces may find themselves in or the situations we would encounter when we work with them. In addition to more realistic and effective training, the close proximity also allows us to practice longer and save time, gas and money.”

The flying schedule will not change due to the newly utilized airspace which is located over Atlantic City International Airport, within 7 nautical miles, and up to 6,500 feet and will not affect local residents or current flying operations of the airport.

“It is designed to not have any impact on the airport operations or normal traffic patterns,” said Routt. “It is also designed with the intent to minimize noise to nonparticipants on the ground.”

Homeland defense and worldwide, combat deployment preparation are important missions of the 177 FW and this new airspace allows for better fulfillment of these crucial tasks.

“This will affect the 177 FW’s and our ability to train effectively for upcoming deployments as well as maintaining homeland defense,” said Routt. “It’s a unique opportunity to practice crucial missions and skills that we will use both at home and overseas.”

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