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Gunfighter Flag focuses on new Air Force initiative to be more mobile

Posted at 3:25 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 21:00:48-04

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — The 366th Fighter Wing out of Mountain Home Air Force Base held their bi-annual Gunfighter Flag to provide training for their F-15 Strike Eagle pilots, but it also features a new objective.

The 366th Fighter Wing is one of five air combat command lead wings in the country, this means the 366th can now deploy to anywhere in the world.

"The United States Air Force for the last 30 years has deployed its aircraft to pre-established bases that operate like small cities," said Col. Ernesto DiVittorio the 366th Fighter Wing Commander.. "The lead wing is organized, trained and equipped to be able to deploy with a small footprint to anywhere with a runway where our aircraft can operate."

It's an effort to be more mobile, but to execute this mission it takes setting up an expeditionary air base to support flying missions.

Air Force personnel sets up a command and control element where they set up communications, leaders plan missions and they run this temporary air base that makes the Air Force more mobile, crews need to be ready to set-up and take-down this element depending on threats or mission objectives.

“The 366th Fighter Wing is prepared to deploy anywhere in the world during our available phase within ten days of the order to deploy," said DiVittorio. "We can set up these bases within hours and have communications established within a matter of minutes."

But anything in the military on this scale requires logistics to house the airmen, feed them and provide them with the resources they need, so in a separate location they set up the airbase squadron.

This temporary tent city becomes home and can be sustained with supplies, the airmen at Mountain Home practiced setting up the tents, securing them and getting them ready to support the mission.

"The aircraft, the air crew and our maintainers make up that mission generation force element, but a lead wing can accept mission generation force elements from across the Air Force as well as from our joint and partner nations," said DiVittorio.

The F-15 Strike Eagle pilots from the 366th Fighter Wing and the 428th Fighter Squadron made up of pilots from Singapore were out flying their mission while the Idaho Air National Guard played the enemy in Gunfighter Flag 23-1.

"Team work is absolutely important, not just the lead wing, but also to put on an exercise like Gunfighter Flag," said DiVittorio. "It is ensuring that we have realistic training, without this team, we wouldn’t be as effective and as lethal as we are."