Dogfighting in the Pacific
Air & Space reader and U.S. Navy public affairs officer Lieutenant David Tarr sent us a bunch of very cool images from the crew of the USS George Washington, stationed in the Pacific. In October, the Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron 27 and Carrier Air Wing 5 engaged in Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training with the Royal Malaysian Air Force, pitting their F/A-18E Super Hornets in dogfights with the Royal Mace Su-30 MKM Flanker and allowing the pilots real-world training with non-U.S. aircraft. The RMAF also flies the MiG-29 Fulcrum N and the BAE Hawk; Navy pilots were allowed to sit in the cockpit of the MiG and tour the facilities before the training, as well. As Lieutenant Commander Noel Norten, who participated in one of the dogfights, explained:
[It was] surreal. You spend so much of your career training to a potential threat aircraft and studying their capabilities and limitations, formulating a game plan that pits your strengths against their weaknesses, but you never really see it in action. Then, bang, there you are. All of a sudden you're at the merge with a real Su-30MKM and you're doing all of the things that you've dedicated the last ten years of your life to practicing and perfecting. It was a totally awesome experience that I hope I get to repeat.
Image: U.S. Navy, courtesy Lt. David Tarr