Surge ops increases air traffic

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The 48th Fighter Wing's jets are flying more sorties during the month of March.

"We are exercising the ability to fly a massive amount of sorties in a short amount of time, and preparing our pilots for operations that are outside the norm, so that they are ready in a stressful environment, to go out and execute the mission they've been trained to do," explained Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, 493rd Fighter Squadron director of operations.

On a typical day, one fighter squadron flies 14 sorties each, lasting about an hour and a half. But, this month, squadrons are scheduled to fly up to 54 sorties in one day.  During this time, instead of shutting down the jets after the morning and evening sorties, each jets will be refueled twice, allowing pilots three opportunities to better hone their skills.

"It's a great experience for the pilot to stay in the jet, get refueled and do it again," Zumwalt said. "The sorties are exhausting, and this training pushes pilots further, testing their limits, so they are ready at a moment's notice and can successfully accomplish the mission. Your typical pilot may get between nine and 12 sorties a week, and, on average, that's how many pilots get in a month."

Zumwalt explained that this surge in training allows pilots to practice executing difficult maneuvers with precision.

"A good example is a break turn," Zumwalt explained. "It's a defensive or offensive hard turn, high-g maneuver to turn the aircraft very rapidly. Now, I can go out and do three of those in a single sortie or I can go out and do 12 of them in a single day. What you'll find is that, during that day, it's a lot of muscle memory, and by hitting it all at once we are able to zero in on the perfect spot for execution."

The Liberty Wing and surrounding community communities can expect to hear more jets in the sky during the coming weeks. For every aircraft the Liberty Wing puts in the sky, there is a lot of work that goes on in the background and a lot of beneficial training that prepares our Airmen for future operations. Training consistently and occasionally pushing the limits keeps everyone on the ground and in the air Forward, Ready, Now.