AIRVENTURE 2019 “YEAR OF THE FIGHTER” PART 2 A LOOK AT TODAY’S MODERN FIGHTER AND MILITARY AIRCRAFT.
Our coverage of AirVenture 2019 continues with a closer look at the modern fighter aircraft during the “Year of The Fighter” salute. Almost every modern-day fighter and attack aircraft was present from the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps, several of these aircraft flew in the daily airshows, and also as part of the United States Air Force Heritage Flight and United States Navy Legacy Flight.
The United States Air Force had examples of all of its frontline fighters and attack aircraft on display or in the air over Oshkosh this year. Both versions of the Boeing F-15 Eagle were on hand this year. A pair of the Air Superiority version the F-15C Eagle from the 104th Fighter Wing part of the Massachusetts Air National Guard were on static display. The 104th is based at the Westfield Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield Massachusetts and flies a variety of missions including 24/7 Air Control Alert protecting the Northeast portion of the United States. The 4th Fighter Wing based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base North Carolina brought on a pair of the Multi-Role Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles. The 4th Fighter Wing has flown the Strike Eagle since 1988, and has flown the Strike Eagle in combat in every major conflict since Desert Storm in 1991.
The United States Air Force Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron better known as the Thunderbirds opened the Thursday Air Show. The Thunderbirds fly the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon better known as the Viper. The F-16 is a Multi Role Fighter Aircraft and is the world’s most numerous aircraft in military service today. The Thunderbirds passed through Oshkosh on their way to Milwaukee for their air show and flew several different passes.
Three of the four Air Combat Command single ship demo teams were also at AirVenture 2019 those being the A-10, F-22, and F-35, the F-16 Demo Team was at an overseas airshow. The Demo Teams did fly in the afternoon airshow with the F-22 and F-35 teams flying a modified demonstration due to the size of the air show box while the A-10 could fly a full demonstration. In addition, several different combinations of Heritage Flights were also flown, where the single ship demo teams would fly formation passes with Vintage Warbirds. We will take a closer look at the Heritage Flights in a future article. All of the single ship demo teams performed double duty supporting the Milwaukee Air Show which was the same weekend.
The F-22 demo team had a pair of 5TH Generation Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor’s borrowed from the 94th fighter squadron based at Joint Base Langley Air Force Base, Langley-Eustis Virginia for the Oshkosh Show. The 2019 Demo Pilot Major Paul “Loco” Lopez flew an abbreviated demo showcasing just a small portion of the F-22’s amazing capabilities as well as several different Heritage Flight combinations.
The F-35 demo team had a pair of 5th Generation multi-role Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II’s with them at Oshkosh this year. These F-35’s are normally assigned to the 56th Operations Group, 61st Fighter Squadron Luke Air Force Base Arizona. the 2019 Demo Pilot Captain Andrew “Dojo” Olson also flew an abbreviated demo similar to the F -22 which gave a small glimpse into the capabilities of this amazing aircraft. The F-35 also flew in several different Heritage Flight combinations. The F-35 was based out of Oshkosh until moving to Milwaukee on Thursday to support that air show.
The A-10 demo team was also part of AirVenture 2019 and had a pair of Close Air-Support and Ground Attack Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II’s from the 385th wing based at Davis Monthan Air Force Base Tucson Arizona. One of the A-10C’s that did the bulk of the flying, serial number 81-0980, had an impressive tally of mission markings on the nose. The 2019 Demo Pilot Major Cody “ShiV” Wilton flew a full aerobatic routine and like the F-22 and F-35 also flew several different Heritage Flight combinations.
The 122nd Fighter Wing, better known as the “Black Snakes” which are part of the Indiana Air National Guard and based at the Fort Wayne Indiana International Airport had a pair of Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II’s at AirVenture 2019. The 122nd flew a Close Air Support Demo which showcased the A-10’s very unique combat capabilities. The 122nd was formed in 1942 and has flown the A-10 since 2010.
If the F-35 demo team was not enough another pair of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II’s were also on hand, with one example on display. They were also from the 61st Fighter Squadron based at Luke Air Force Base Arizona. The 61st Fighter Squadron is part of the Air Education and Training Command and responsible for training F-35 Instructors and Pilots.
The United States Navy also had a very heavy presence at AirVenture 2019. This year’s show including several different examples of the Boeing FA-18F Hornet and the EA-18G Growler. The United States Navy Flight Demonstration Team, known as the Blue Angels dropped by Oshkosh in-route from Duluth Minnesota to Grand Junction Colorado. The Blue Angels still fly the Boeing FA-18C and D Legacy Model Hornets but will transition to the Super Hornet in 2020. The Blues flew several passes on opening day.
A pair of multi-role Boeing FA-18F Super Hornets were on hand from VFA-94 (Strike Fighter Squadron 94) known as the Mighty Shrikes. These Hornets are based at NAS (Naval Air Station) Lemoore California. The Mighty Shrikes were formed in 1952 and finished the transition to the Super Hornet in 2016. Boeing F-18F Super Hornet Bureau number 168929 which is also the Commander Air Group or CAG aircraft is painted in full color markings, and was a welcome visitor.
Five different Electronic Warfare Boeing EA-18G Growlers were present, including 2 aircraft dedicated to the revived United States Navy Legacy Flight. The United States Navy Legacy Flight is very similar to its United States Air Force counterpart with current United States Navy aircraft flying together with vintage warbirds. We will also take a closer look at the Navy Legacy Flight in an upcoming article. The two EA-18G’s for the Legacy Flight are based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Washington and are part of VAQ-129 (Electronic Attack Squadron 129). This Growler Squadron is better known as the Vikings and are the United States Navy’s only EA-18G Training Squadron.
Two of the other Boeing EA-18G Growlers at AirVenture 2019 also came from VAQ-129. This squadron was formed in 1961 and previously flew the Grumman EA-6B Prowler. The final Boeing EA-18G Growler came from VX-23, (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23). This test unit is based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River Maryland. This squadron was established in 1995 and flies multiple aircraft types for test and evaluation purposes.
The United States Marine Corps was not left out of AirVenture 2019. Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II flying with VMFA- 314 (Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314) based at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar California was in the static display. The F-35 unit better known as the Black Knights just recently retired the Boeing F-18 Hornet and began training on the F-35. The Marine Corps will equip 2 squadrons with the F-35C that will deploy with Navy Carrier Air Wings.
As can be seen AirVenture’s “Year the Fighter” did not disappoint with a wide array of aircraft in the air and on the ground. AirVenture always attracts the best of our United States military has to offer. We will have more exciting AirVenture coverage in the articles to come, until then, “Blue Skies to All!”.