144th FW hosts F-35s for dissimilar combat training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mercedes Taylor
  • 144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Pilots from the 194th Fighter Squadron performed two dissimilar aircraft training missions with pilots from the U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225, stationed out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., June 4, 2022, here.

Two F-35B Lightning aircraft II and two F-15C Eagles participated in each training mission. The F-35s arrived June 3, 2022, and parked at the Fresno ANG Base’s ramp in preparation for the following Saturday’s missions, which were conducted during the 144th Fighter Wing’s regularly scheduled drill weekend.

The integration training consisted of navigating through simulated contested operations and degraded systems. Smaller training interactions like these are excellent practice for larger scale training exercises, and provide experience that pilots need to perform at high levels.

“It was great training with, communicating with and partnership building with the Marines and personnel from the Yuma Air Station,” said Lt. Col. David Allamandola, 144th Operations Flight director of operations.

While the missions were successful and operations went smoothly, they didn’t come without obstacles, including fuel limitations on the installation due to current fuel-system construction requirements.

“The biggest obstacle was the fuel limitation at Fresno,” Allamandola said. “We had to coordinate early with personnel from the 144th Logistic Readiness Squadron’s Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricant shop. There were also added security requirements, which were also addressed early on to ensure smooth operations.”

Early coordination was also required for providing ground maintenance support to meet training requirements for the VMFA-225 pilots.

Expeditionary operations are core to Marine Corps doctrine,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Patrick Kaufer, VMFA-225 Flight Scheduling officer. “Cross-country operations like this are critical for [Marine Corps] preparations to execute distributed operations in future battlespace. Our aircraft came with no maintenance or ground support personnel. In addition to the air-to-air training, we strive to get our pilots away from home station as often as possible to build familiarity with operating in foreign environments with minimal ground support. This trip helped us achieve that goal.”

Despite facing the logistical challenges, the pilots rose to the challenge of successfully training with an active-duty sister service component to maintain high-level skills and gain additional experience.

One of the goals for Allamandola has been to make these types of trainings more routine because the quality of the training is so high.

“This training was a great success with the base coordination here from all shops and units involved,” Allamandola said.