HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Holloman Air Force Base hosted dissimilar aircraft training and integration with the Royal Canadian Air Force from Jan. 22 to Feb. 15, 2018.
The training served to familiarize NATO allies with each other’s aircraft operations and maintenance requirements as well as strengthening their partnerships.
“We were able to take the F-16 [Fighting Falcons] and CF-18 [Hornets] and fly against each other in an environment where we normally do not get to do that,” said Capt. Joseph Gagnon, 54th Fighter Group instructor pilot. “We get to see how the other aircraft performs and how the RCAF operates.”
Training at Holloman emphasized teamwork between flying missions with the F-16 and CF-18, better preparing them for the deployed environment.
“We like to get a deployed operation feeling between the Canadians and the U.S. Air Force,” said Gagnon. “This experience puts us out there and allows us to see what we need to do differently, and get to see how we can operate with each other during any type of conflict.”
Due to extreme weather in Canada, flying at Holloman also allows the RCAF pilots to have extra time in the skies.
“During this time of the year, the weather is not very good for flying in Canada. It can be quite cold,” said Lt. Col. Forrest Rock, 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron commanding officer. “We have a lot of snow and multiple layers of weather that prevents us from conducting full up flying training. Coming down here and having an opportunity to take advantage of the fantastic weather and at the same time train with our partners is very beneficial to us.”
The RCAF’s time at Holloman has allowed them to increase flight hours, encouraged interoperability and allowed for invaluable training that is not always possible.
“Our goals were to fly a certain amount of hours down here and to complete a certain amount of training,” said Rock. “We are kind of blowing that out of the water and have been able to add a bunch of extra lines each day, increasing our maintenance capacity and serviceability for our aircraft. It’s been a point of pride for myself and our maintenance organization to give our pilots extra training down here.”
Consolidating missions between the two aircraft required attention to detail and flexibility between the two NATO allies.
“Any time there is a conflict in the world, nobody ends up in that conflict on their own, there is always a coalition,” said Rock. “Being down here and having the opportunity to train with the Air Force helps us build on our standard operating procedures, tactics and techniques that we use when we do deploy in operations together.”