The Oregon Air National Guard is the proud host of two independent fighter wings. Not only is that detail noteworthy, but what is also very remarkable is both units fly the World’s Greatest Air Superiority Fighter, the Boeing F-15C Eagle.
Stationed at Portland International Airport is the 123rd Fighter Squadron, part of the larger 142 FW. Responsible for ACA and air superiority, personnel and aircraft from the 142nd are currently deployed as part of a Theater Security Package, helping patrol the skies in Europe as a response to the uptick in aggressive tactics used by the Russian Air Force.
The Eagles nesting down south in Klamath Falls, Oregon belong to the 173rd Fighter Wing. Under that larger FW umbrella, the 114th Fighter Squadron carries out its business of being the only formal training unit for the F-15 Eagle left in the entire world. If anyone is in need of a recertifying “TX” or initial qualification training in the Mighty Mighty, The Land of No Slack is your destination.
That’s right. The Land of No Slack. The Eagle community has always been notorious for eating its own young, so signing up to fly Light Grays is not for the faint of heart. If you suck, you will get chewed up and spit out. Go find another unit to fly with, because the F-15 community only wants the best in those cockpits. That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s the way things shall remain. Don’t like it? Go fly another jet somewhere else. You can find the door on your own.
Air Education and Training Command, the MAJCOM overseeing the 173rd’s activities, just named the 114th as the best fighter squadron in its ranks. That includes all F-15, F-16, and F-22 squadrons designated as Formal Training Units in their particular MDS. A huge accomplishment, but it’s the fourth time the 114th has earned the title. The accolade was previously bestowed upon them in 2006, 2009, and 2010.
Colonel Frederick French, the 173rd Operations Group commander, says “the real credit for winning the award this year and in years past has been every single person in the entire operations group. This award is labeled as the Top Fighter Squadron, but it really encompasses everybody in the operations group that contributes to the 114th FS’s success. Without the whole team, this award would not be at Kingsley Field.”
The 114th Fighter Squadron surpassed 65,000 Class-A Mishap-free flying hours, including their 4,800 total flying hours and 3,877 total sorties during fiscal year 2014. Student production increased by an amazing eighty percent, graduating more than fifty near mission-ready F-15 pilots. Even more impressive is that it was done while undertaking the active duty Total Force Initiative. By having active duty Instructor Pilots amongst the Guard ranks at the Kingsley schoolhouse, the 114 FS greatly increased both its training and manning requirement outputs.
Since the squadron is unable to compete for other air-to-air fighter squadron awards, given its AETC designation, winning this award is one of the very best ways to showcase the pride, professionalism, and ultimately the performance of the 173rd’s Airmen.
(Featured photo by Jonathan Derden)