Pacific Stars & Stripes

Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Carrier wing's landing training takes off

By Richard Roesler
Tokyo bureau chief

The Navy's Carrier Air Wing Five began carrier landing practice Monday with none of the usual fanfare: no letters protesting aircraft noise, no angry phone calls, no demonstrators at the end of the runway.

There are two reasons for the relative quiet at the base, Atsugi Naval Air Facility. For one thing, much of the training is taking place hundreds of miles away, at the remote Japanese island of Iwo Jima.

For another, most of the wing's fighter aircraft - whose noise prompts the most complaints - aren't even in Japan. They're on an unrelated training exercise in Guam. When that ends April 18, Navy officials said Monday, they'll practice their carrier landings at Guam's Andersen Air Force Base.

The wing's carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk, leaves was to leave Tuesday for a two-month cruise to Guam and other as-yet-unnamed ports in the Pacific, said Lt. Cmdr. Ed Zeigler, spokesman for Carrier Group Five.

As a precursor to that deployment, about 15 electronic warfare EA-6B Prowlers, S-3Bs submarine hunters and C-2A Greyhound delivery planes will practice at Iwo Jima through Friday.

If the weather turns bad at Iwo Jima, the training would move to Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Yokota Air Base and Misawa Air Base, all in Japan.

Weather at Iwo Jima was reported to be cloudy Monday, but otherwise good for flying, said Jon Nylander, a Navy spokesman.

Most of the wing's aircraft - an F-14 fighter squadron and three F/A-18 strike fighter squadrons - are in Guam for the April 4-18 training.

Accompanying them are the carrier's E-2C Hawkeyes - propeller planes carrying large, round radar dishes over the fuselage, like a small AWACS plane.

All are taking part in "strike fighter advanced readiness training," an exercise normally held in Nevada.

"This hones the pilots' air-to-air and air-to-ground warfighting skills," said Lt. Cmdr. James Graybeal, a Navy spokesman.