552nd ACW conducts aircraft weather flush exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class James Hall
  • 436th Training Squadron

The 552nd Air Control Wing completed a weather flush exercise which tested E-3G Sentry pilots, associated air crews, maintainers, support squadrons and ultimately demonstrated their ability to react to a weather emergency at Tinker Air Force Base, March 21.

Fourteen aircraft were generated to be dispersed or relocated during the exercise, with seven aircraft queueing on the runway at one time.

“We have to maintain readiness at all times,” said Col. Kelley Stevens, 552nd Maintenance Group commander. “This is Oklahoma and the weather can turn severe quickly; we need to be able to generate our aircraft to evacuate to protect them. It isn't just the maintainers who are making the mission happen in support of our nation’s defense; it is a team effort--the aircrew and all the support staff. We couldn't do it without everyone working as a team."

The importance of the weather flush exercise for the 552nd ACW lay in the fact that Tinker is no stranger to severe weather. The term, “Tornado Alley,” of which Oklahoma is a part, was actually coined in 1952 by the same Air Force meteorologists who originally made the first successful tornado forecast at Tinker AFB in 1948, Major Ernest Fawbush and Capt. Robert Miller.

"I can't say enough about our teams of Airmen who are working holidays, weekends and around the clock to keep these aging aircraft in the fight," said Stevens. "Our Airmen are amazing--smart, talented, and resourceful in keeping the AWACS flying despite the many sustainment challenges.”

According to Col. Wayne Frost, 552nd Operations Group commander, constant training ensures Airmen are ready to provide support with command, control, and communications to multi-domain operations worldwide.

"I couldn't be prouder of the effort and success shown today by the Airmen of the 552 Air Control Wing,” said Col. Keven Coyle, 552nd ACW commander. “Rapid generation of airpower does not just happen without an immense amount of expertise, experience, sacrifice, and effort on behalf of the 552nd ACW and our partners in the 72nd Air Base Wing here at Tinker AFB. I am beaming at the amazing display of tenacity and grit our airmen show each and every day to generate combat airpower on behalf of the USAF and our nation."

The E-3G Sentry is an AWACS aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management (C2BM), surveillance, airborne moving target indicator, target detection, identification, datalink, and tracking platform. The U.S. Air Force doesn’t go to war without capabilities provided by the E-3G and her Airmen.