Skies to host Navy planes

By 1st Lt. Jennifer Geeslin: Mach Meter

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — More than 275 Navy personnel, along with 10 F-18s and three E-2 radar planes will begin arriving at the 27th Fighter Wing on Saturday for a joint military exercise called Roving Sands. The exercise will run from March 21 to April 1.

Cannon and the Navy aircraft will have a vigorous flying schedule for this exercise, so citizens who live on or near Cannon may experience some additional aircraft noise during this time.

The exercise will mainly be flown at night, in the Fort Bliss, Texas, area, with approximately 26 sorties leaving Cannon per day.

“Roving Sands is a way for military aircraft to practice against the Patriot missile batteries,” said Maj. Steve Brooks, 27th Fighter Wing Roving Sands project officer. “It is the way for the pilots to attack the targets and evade the Patriot, giving the Army an opportunity to train.”

The U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Britain’s Royal Air Force are all taking part in the exercise. Cannon along with a several nearby bases are hosting the units who are flying in for the exercise.

Cannon has participated in this type of exercise in the past.

“Roving Sands has existed in various forms throughout the years, mainly as a large Army exercise with Air Force support in the White Sands Missile Range,” said Steve Guastaferro, 27th Fighter Wing installation deployment officer.

Many hours of preparation have gone into the exercise for the 524th Fighter Squadron and visiting Navy personnel.

“From logistics and aircraft maintenance support, to services, security, engineering, fuels, vehicles, lodging and medical support, it takes every member of the Cannon team to successfully support a deploying unit of this size in such a dynamic exercise environment,” Guastaferro said.