SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is home to the F-15E Strike Eagle, a dual-role fighter aircraft designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. According to Col. Christopher Sage, 4th Fighter Wing commander, the mission here is to provide dominant Strike Eagle air power; anytime, anywhere. General Petr Pavel, NATO military committee chairman, experienced the mission firsthand during a visit, Oct. 14-16, 2016.
At the beginning of the tour, Sage and Col. Brian Armstrong, 4th FW vice commander, greeted Pavel and accompanied him to a mission and capabilities briefing.
“It shocks me how little the communities outside of America know about the fight on terrorism,” said Pavel. “We need to bring more awareness to them so they can be further educated on the mission here. Being more conscious about the pilots at this base and their deployed experiences, and becoming familiar with the reality of their work is important for us to understand.”
Pavel also toured the 335th Fighter Squadron, and met with members who recently returned from a deployment supporting OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE. During the briefing, Capt. Daniel Hendren, 335th FS pilot, gave a quick case study overview of a multinational strike, and highlighted the importance of our NATO alliance for the mission.
“To have the feedback that they gave, and listening to them talk about their deployments helps me understand the mission more,” said Pavel. “Also, I was especially impressed with the details of the job over Syria and Iraq.”
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. has conducted 16, 291 strikes in Iraq and Syria as of Nov. 17, 2016. Additionally, the U.S. and 12 coalition partner nations have flown an estimated 125,454 sorties in support of operations in Iraq and Syria, Aug. 8, 2014 – Nov. 14, 2016.
During their most recent deployment, members of the 335th FS dropped more than 2,000 bombs and killed more than 80 high-value Islamic State of Iraq and Levant individuals.
According to Pavel, countries outside of the U.S. know little about America’s fight on terrorism, and this tour enabled him to gain more knowledge about the Strike Eagles’ capabilities, and will allow him to distribute the information to people overseas.
During the visit, Pavel also personally experienced the Strike Eagle’s power and capabilities during a familiarization flight. Maj. Adam Mattheis, 335th Fighter Squadron pilot and assistant director of operations, flew Pavel in the F-15E.
“During the flight, I exposed him to some of the aircraft capabilities,” said Mattheis. “I showed him some of the aircraft handling maneuvers that we use on a day-to-day basis.”
The one-hour flight also consisted of them flying over the Air Force Dare Bomb Range. The range is primarily used for F-15E Strike Eagle training, and is an electronic combat, day-night, and air-to-ground training site critical to Seymour Johnson AFB and Army and Navy special operations teams.
Pavel concluded his tour by recognizing the 4th FW’s contribution to NATO’s global initiative.
“Having an opportunity to experience the aircraft was great,” said Pavel. “It is still a highly capable aircraft and weapon, especially in the hands of professional and experienced pilots and crew members such as the ones here.”
Sage was grateful to host the General with whom he worked closely with in his previous assignment as the senior military assistant to the deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium.
"It was a tremendous privilege to host Gen. Pavel here," said Sage. "I was honored to showcase
Team Seymour members who work tirelessly to ensure our unique mission and capabilities aid in the efforts to destroy and degrade Daesh."