The 917th Fighter Group, a part of the squadron, is commanded by Col. John Breazeale, a Gilmer native, who was on the mission with them.
Known as Scorpion, the full-color helmet display indicates a target’s position on the ground or in the air without requiring the pilot to break visual contact with his surroundings.
“This system has greatly enhanced situational awareness and the ability to target more dynamically and quickly,” said Lt. Col. Robin Sandifer, a 47th FS pilot, in a July 27 release.
The second piece of new hardware, the Lightweight Airborne Recovery System, allows searchers to more easily locate a crash.
“We hit a button, it interrogates the radio . . . and we know exactly where [the downed airmen] are,” explained Lt. Col. Tom McNurlin of the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Tucson, Ariz. RIMPAC ran through Friday.
The unit flew 10 of the Air Force Reserve A-10 Warthog Fighter Jets from Barksdale AFB across the Pacific, landing at Joint Base Hickam Field/Pearl Harbor, Hawaii following a 9.5-hour nonstop flight from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
Each of the 10 jets required no less than six air-to-air refueling hookups on the uneventful deployment flight, using USAF KC-10 and KC-135 Tanker Aircraft, which accompanied the single-seat jets on the trans-Pacific journey.
The 10 jets will repeat the trans-Pacific crossing later this week as they conclude RIMPAC activities and return home to Barksdale. This is the second time the jets have deployed this year.
Earlier in 2012, the 47th Fighter Squadron flew their jets around the world in the opposite direction, crossing the Atlantic, the Med, and the Persian Gulf in support of a successful combat deployment in Afghanistan.
The 47th celebrated its heritage in the Pacific on Saturday evening July 21, at a special ceremony on board the “Mighty Missouri,” which is now based in Pearl Harbor next to the Arizona Memorial.
A special flight of four A-10 jets flew an aerial salute over the party promptly at 1600 hrs just as rainclouds opened up with fresh showers sending celebrants scurrying for cover underneath a huge white party tent on the fantail of the Mighty Mo, just yards away from the historical Treaty Deck where General Douglas McArthur held forth for the Treaty Signing of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II.
Several family members, children, veterans of the unit, and special guests were in attendance.
Col. Breazeale officially opened the ceremonies with a solemn prayer of thanks and remembrance for the RIMPAC Heritage Event.
Then Col. Breazeale and Squadron Commander Lt. Col. James Travis, called upon pilots Lt. McLaughlin, Lt. Knighton and Maintenance Senior Airman Slade (from DeKalb) to come forward and retell the history of the unit.
They chronicled the heroics of the squadron across the Pacific, from the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, to landing at Iwo Jima on D-Day plus 5, to escorting B-29s in their P-51 Mustangs on bombing missions to Tokyo, to the victory flights overhead the Missouri in Tokyo Bay during the signing of the Japanese surrender treaty.
Members of the wartime 47th Squadron proudly called themselves the “Pineapple Air Force”.
I (Steve Dean) was honored to serve in the 47th Fighter Squadron, flying the A-37 Dragonfly Fighter Jet in the Air Force Reserve, from 1970 through 1976, and I was especially honored to join the 47th Fighter Squadron in Hawaii for a portion of the RIMPAC activities.
Lt. Col James Travis has accepted my invitation to come to Gilmer and report on the RIMPAC activities on Tuesday Sept. 4 at noon at the Rotary
Club luncheon at the Gilmer Civic Center.
Hopefully, he will have unclassified gun camera film to show of the sinking of the USNS Niagara Falls, an event of the exercise.