144th FW provides Theater Security in Indo-Pacific

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Charles Vaughn
  • 144th Fighter Wing

As part of a Theater Security Package, F-15C Eagle pilots, maintainers and support troops led by the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 3, 2023, as the 194th Fighter Generation Squadron to ensure continuous fighter presence through the phased return of Kadena’s fleet of F-15C/D Eagles to the United States.

While deployed, these National Guard Airmen from multiple Air National Guard units will integrate with their active-duty counterparts stationed at Kadena Air Base, augmenting the 18th Wing in order to help sustain a mission capable fleet in the region.

“Our squadron is excited to be able to train and integrate with our active-duty counterparts here at Kadena,” said Maj. Christopher Lacroix, 194th Fighter Generation Squadron director of operations. “To be able to fly with 5th generation assets while training in the Indo-Pacific is a great opportunity for our Airmen and allies to strengthen our partnerships and continue to refine our tactics.”

“Part of our mission is to augment not just aircraft but people as well,” said Capt. Thomas Lopez, 194th FGS director of maintenance operations. “It’s a great opportunity for our people. They get exposed to new shops, practices, different people and airframes than what they experience back at home.”

Airmen from six different Air National Guard units integrate into the various shops during this TSP, augmenting the 18th Wing in order to help sustain a capable force in the Indo-Pacific.

“It has been a good learning opportunity”, said Senior Airman Julia Flocchini, a Fighter Aircraft Integrated Avionics specialist from the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Oregon. ”Integrating back-shop and flight line personnel is allowing us to learn from those with different experiences and helping us to see a broader maintenance picture than what we normally see.”

“This deployment is a great representation of how everyone is trained to the same standard.” said Lopez. “It creates an integrated environment in a deployed location where we can work with members of different units on the same flight line, executing the mission to the same standards we would expect our own members to complete at home.”

As the 18th Wing continues the phased return of Kadena’s fleet of Eagles, the Department of Defense will maintain a steady-state fighter presence in the region by temporarily deploying aircraft to maintain deterrence capabilities and added flexibility in a dynamic theater.

Posturing with a wide range of capabilities in the Indo-Pacific theater remains a top priority. The transition to more capable aircraft at Kadena exemplifies the DOD’s continued commitment to enhancing posture while building on the strong foundation of our Alliance with Japan.