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Arizona alert detachment held up as the 'Gold Standard'

  • Published
  • By Capt. Gabe Johnson
  • 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Arizona's Air National Guard F-16 alert detachment here is the focus of new training video for other alert units to follow when standing up air sovereignty alert missions.

The D-M alert unit is a detachment of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing headquartered at Tucson International Airport, and its team of pilots and maintainers are well-seasoned in the area of homeland defense as they provide a perpetual rapid response force in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE, the U.S. air defense mission which began in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

A team of videographers and Continental NORAD Region (CONR) staff visited the detachment Feb. 11 and 12 to film operations for an unclassified training video to serve as an "Alert 101" course.

For the handful of Guardsmen on station, the visit was viewed as the ultimate compliment.

"We're proud that these guys think so highly of us," said Chief Master Sgt. Richard Bonner, detachment chief enlisted manager. "When we heard they wanted to use us for an alert training video we were honored and we agreed to help out in any way."

"This is an excellent example of what we want from an alert det," said Senior Master Sgt. Randy Bachmann, the Alert Force Operational Assessment program manager for CONR, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

"We're here to film this particular unit while it's doing its job because you have a top-notch organization here," said Bachmann. "This det has earned excellent and outstanding ratings in its NORAD inspections, and it has volumes of operational experience. This is the standard we will train other alert units to reach for."

In addition to maintaining a 24/7, 365-day, alert force, Guard fighters fly air defense missions over large events such as the Super Bowl, the Olympic games and national political conventions to name a few.

"To be involved in a real-world mission is important to us. We are certainly not a training detachment," said Bonner. "The people here love the work they do."

The CONR mission is operational control, and sector tactical control, of fighters and supporting tankers launched to intercept and identify unauthorized or unknown aircraft entering the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone.

More than 80 percent of fighter aircrews flying Operation NOBLE EAGLE missions are Air National Guard and approximately 75 percent of tanker and C-130 airlift crews are from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.