PACIFIC OCEAN - The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, completed a large-force exercise with the U.S. Air Force, Sept. 25.
George Washington and CVW 5 coordinated eight days of joint service, air-to-air combat training with the U.S. Air Force's 18th Wing to include 27th Fighter Squadron (27 FS), currently deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, and the 44th Fighter Squadron (44 FS) stationed at Kadena Air Base.
"Our goal in the exercise is to train our capabilities and tactics against a capable opponent in the U.S. Air Force," said Lt. Jeffrey Drewiske, CVW 5's strike warfare officer. "It's important to train with joint services for an interoperable and mission capable force within the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations."
The training exercise consisted of numerous scenarios, some of which included more than 60 aircraft in the air at one time.
"We practiced fighter integration, where we mix together fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft to familiarize ourselves with each other's methods and tactics," said Air Force Capt. Kevin Heath, an F-22 Raptor instructor pilot mission commander assigned to the 27 FS. "It's a great experience to fly with Navy pilots, and to see different aircraft platforms and how they operate."
Aircraft that participated in the exercise included the Air Force's F-22 Raptor; F-15C Eagle, KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Sentry, and the Navy's F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and E-2C Hawkeye.
"Many of the exercises were air-to-air engagements; both in offensive counter for air power projection and defensive counter to protect George Washington and its vital assets," said Drewiske. "It was a memorable learning experience to work with the Air Force because almost no other air wing gets a chance to train with them on a large scale."
Exercises are an important element to a successful training program.
"Everything we gain and learn from this exercise, we can apply to future missions from a small-level exercise to a real-world scenario because we have gone through a similar motion before and know how to do it," said Heath. "It's important to train with other joint services because we are going to fight alongside each other if we go to war. It's vital for us to know how a Navy pilot flies and vice versa."
George Washington and CVW 5 provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.