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144th Particpates in Atlantic Spear

FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. -- Airmen and F-15 Eagle fighter jets from the 144th Fighter Wing deployed to the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga. to participate in the training exercise Atlantic Spear, Aug. 15.Atlantic Spear is a large force, multiservice, dissimilar aircraft combat exercise where different aviation scenarios are played through the duration of the exercise.

"The mission while we are deployed here in Savannah is to integrate with different aircraft, such as the F-18 and F-16 as well as the Barnes Guard counterparts from the East Coast," said Maj. Ben Leestma, 144FW, F-15 pilot. "We are taking part in large force exercises. The composition of these fights out over the east coast, out over the water, is about eight ship on the blue side verse eight to ten to twelve on the red side simulating scenarios that we may face in the real world."

The number of aircraft participating in Atlantic Spear and the scenarios being played out help prepare the pilots for threats that may actually happen if war was to break out. "I would say the scenarios are unique in the fact that the large scale [of Atlantic Spear], and the robust complexity of each scenario," Leestma said. "So you have the numbers on each of sides, the replications of the threat, the air threat as well as the ground threat that will be trying to kill us as we are air borne and that is a difficult problem to get into."

The F-15s need to be able to flĀ  before any of the scenarios take place. The maintainers of the 144 FW work long hours to keep the aircraft up to specifications.
"The jets just naturally want to stay up in the air, so when they sit down they tend to break down more," said Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Montanez, 144th FW crew chief. "We come out every day in the morning, we break down the jet, we get the jet ready for the morning go and afternoon go. We are out here all the time. We are the ones that launch and recover the jet, we are the ones that put the pilots in their seats. "The Boeing Company, maker of the F-15's radar system, also had representation on the ground.

"My primary job is to make sure the system is operating properly, and to ensure that if there is maintenance to be done that the parts to get changed are indeed bad parts," said Craig Happ, Boeing fi service representative. "[the data] gets download on to a database so we can track system performance. Every time you go out on the road, everybody learns something about system operation and functioning away from home station."

One of the major challenges to the operation was the weather combined with an aggressive flying schedule. "We are getting used to the weather, it is very humid here and we are making sure our people are staying hydrated," said Maj. Lennie Lujan, 144 FW maintenance officer. "The weather is unpredictable, the sun could be out one minute, and lightning and rain the next. That has been another challenge, lightning within five miles and having pulling people off the lines. We still need to get the aircraft fighter

Even with the obstacles presented, members of the 144 FW accomplished its mission in Savannah. "Our people have performed outstanding," Lujan said. "The 144th men and women are a great group of people. I am very honored to work side by side with them. They always step up to whatever challenge is thrown their way. It is very rewarding to be a part of this unit."