Navy F/A-18s will battle Air Force F-15s in mock combat in the skies over Hawaii starting tomorrow and running through Feb. 20. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that eight Super Hornets from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine at Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, Calif., have flown into Hawaii to engage Eagles from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron over the next three weeks. “We will be flying one-to-one dogfights,” Lt. Aaron Vernallis, the Navy squadron’s operations test director, said in the Jan. 27 newspaper report. “We also will be flying exercises where there will be four of our jets against six of theirs.” The aerial exercises will take place in the airspace of Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility north of Kauai, with two sessions per day, according to the newspaper. The 199th FS still has seven of its 20 F-15s grounded due to the structural issues that have affected the entire Eagle fleet, the newspaper reported. The unit will transition from the F-15 to the F-22 starting in late 2010.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.