Beyond the Horizon: Team Fairchild supports AWACS World Tour
By Senior Airman Jesenia Landaverde, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 27, 2019
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A KC-135 Stratotanker and Airmen assigned to Fairchild AFB are providing air refueling support to an E-3 Sentry assigned to the 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in support of the Airborne Warning and Control System World Tour throughout the Pacific area.
This world tour is the first of its kind and was developed by Air Combat Command for AWACS aircrew to gain pilot proficiency and become familiar with transoceanic crossing operations in and out of the Pacific Air Forces region.
“We play a very important role in the national defense mission by protecting Americans’ freedom, aiding our allies and maintaining air superiority around the globe with our surveillance capabilities,” said Capt. Ray Chhith, 960th AACS E-3 Sentry co-pilot.
The E-3 is capable of capturing imagery 250 miles in any direction because of its beyond-the-horizon radar. The radar sends wavelengths into the ionosphere that reflect and bounce back to receive a more accurate site picture of potential threats.
“We act as an early warning system, providing a wide range of situational awareness for other aircraft around us,” Chhith said. “Using the radar and sensors on board, we are able to provide the clearest picture of the battlefield area for our friendly aircraft that operate in our area of responsibility to eliminate or avoid potential risks.”
During the AWACS world tour, Tinker and Fairchild crews will display their Global Reach ability in multiple locations to include: Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Japan and Australia.
Fairchild air refueling support is essential to maximizing the E-3’s flight time.
“The tanker community provides air refueling to a multitude of aircraft, but this unique mission requires a lot of planning, manning and resilience,” said Capt. Ntungwe Sobe, 384th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 aircraft commander. “Missions like these showcase how lethal and advanced our technology is to deter our adversaries. Both airframes play an important role, but not without the Airmen that are trained to make missions like these successful.”
There are highly-skilled Airmen aboard both aircraft and each of them provide a particular skill set to include pilots, boom operators, flying crew chiefs, air battle managers and radar, weapon, communication technicians.
While this may be the first AWACS World Tour, Air Combat Command has future plans to use more support from Air Mobility Command. The goal is to expand combat airlift capabilities and expand global reach, going beyond the typical area of operation and training, which allows the aircrew to take these lessons learned and use them for real-world application.