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Fanged forty-niners in Florida

Staff Sgt. Dustin Phillips, 311th Aircraft Maintenance Unit support non-commissioned officer in charge, drives a forklift while Staff Sgt. Andrew Marsh, 311th AMU lead support technician, gives directions on loading a ground power unit onto the semi-truck, Jan. 6, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from the maintenance group loaded cargo that was integral to the 311th Fighter Squadron's mission in Key West, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Staff Sgt. Dustin Phillips, 311th Aircraft Maintenance Unit support non-commissioned officer in charge, drives a forklift while Staff Sgt. Andrew Marsh, 311th AMU lead support technician, gives directions on loading a ground power unit onto the semi-truck, Jan. 6, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from the maintenance group loaded cargo that was integral to the 311th Fighter Squadron's mission in Key West, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Airman 1st Class Mequail Fridge, 311th Aircraft Maintenance Unit support technician, pushes a ground power unit while Staff Sgt. Andrew Marsh, 311th AMU lead support technician, pulls it aside to be loaded onto a semi-truck, Jan. 6, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from the 311th AMU packed and shipped all the additional tools and equipment they needed to complete their mission in Key West, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Airman 1st Class Mequail Fridge, 311th Aircraft Maintenance Unit support technician, pushes a ground power unit while Staff Sgt. Andrew Marsh, 311th AMU lead support technician, pulls it aside to be loaded onto a semi-truck, Jan. 6, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Airmen from the 311th AMU packed and shipped all the additional tools and equipment they needed to complete their mission in Key West, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Lt. Col. George Normandin, 311th Fighter Squadron director of operations, loads his bags into a travel pod, Jan. 11, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Normandin was part of the first group of fighter jet pilots to depart from Holloman for Key West, Fla., to participate in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Lt. Col. George Normandin, 311th Fighter Squadron director of operations, loads his bags into a travel pod, Jan. 11, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Normandin was part of the first group of fighter jet pilots to depart from Holloman for Key West, Fla., to participate in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Lt. Col. George Normandin, 311th Fighter Squadron director of operations and 1st Lt. Wooyeon Hicks, 311th Fighter Squadron student, prepare to taxi, Jan. 11, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Members from the 311th Fighter Squadron departed Holloman for Key West to allow their students to participate in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Lt. Col. George Normandin, 311th Fighter Squadron director of operations and 1st Lt. Wooyeon Hicks, 311th Fighter Squadron student, prepare to taxi, Jan. 11, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Members from the 311th Fighter Squadron departed Holloman for Key West to allow their students to participate in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Pilots from the 311th Fighter Squadron depart for Key West, Fla., Jan. 11, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The 311th team departed for Key West to train basic course pilots in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

Pilots from the 311th Fighter Squadron depart for Key West, Fla., Jan. 11, 2020, on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The 311th team departed for Key West to train basic course pilots in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Temporary deployments are an important part of being in the active-duty military. They provide an opportunity for Airmen to hone in on skills and operate in a location that they are unfamiliar with, much like a deployment.

The 311th Fighter Squadron is prepared for a temporary deployment to Key West, Florida, to provide basic course pilots dissimilar air combat training. However, training in a new environment area provides a challenge to the entire aircrew package, as much as the pilots.

Airmen from the logistics readiness, operations security, security forces, aircraft maintenance and aviation resource management squadrons are also supporting this training.

“This is similar to a deployment in a sense that we have to go from point A to point B,” said Capt. Patrick Nolan, 311th Fighter Squadron Key West project officer. “When we get to point B we have to stand up operations, fly our aircraft and do the mission. If we were going outside of the U.S., we would be doing a very similar thing – figuring out where we are going, how we are going to get all of the people, cargo and aircraft there, and once we get there, how we are going to operate to accomplish our mission.”

There were many hurdles in planning this trip. The project officers had to find a location that could support around 180 Airmen and 16 F-16s at a location with dissimilar fighter jets, along with other requirements.

Choosing Key West allowed the 311th to practice working in a joint environment as well.

“We will be flying with the Air National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy,” said Nolan. “We’re taking (the B-course students) out of their comfort zone. When we take them to a Navy base, not only is it structurally different, but the Navy has different ways of communicating, training and describing dog fighting or air-to-air maneuvers. It adds to the student’s plate, it is challenging but it’s a really good learning experience.”

Students especially look forward to the opportunity to train in a mock-deployment setting and bond with fellow Airmen in their squadron. While temporary deployments are important for training, Airmen look forward to challenging themselves through new experiences.

“I think being able to do dissimilar air combat training with different aircraft and getting to bond with the squadron while simulating being deployed together will be awesome,” said 1st Lt. Eric Holm, 311th Fighter Squadron basic course student. “Flying and getting used to a new area (will be the hardest part).”