ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS, Pacific Ocean (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW 9) is currently engaged in the John C. Stennis Strike Group's (JCSSG) Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), which began Sept. 21. COMPTUEX is a monthlong exercise involving the entire JCSSG.
With a focus on reconnaissance, maritime security, and power projection, COMPTUEX provides an opportunity for the air wing to effectively conduct operations with the different strike group elements. It is an intense exercise for the air wing, and is the culmination of many months of preparation.
In preparation for a deployment in support of the global war on terrororism, CVW 9 has been conducting multiple training exercises in order to enhance the proficiency of the air wing and further solidify the relationship between the air wing and the rest of the strike group.
"The Stennis crew greeted us with open arms and has made the integration process quick and seamless," said CVW 9 Deputy Commander Capt. Sterling G. Gilliam. "We have an outstanding working relationship with the ship, and we are sure it will continue well into the future."
CVW 9 is comprised of eight squadrons that hail from six locations. These locations include Lemoore, Miramar, Point Mugu and North Island, Calif.; Oak Harbor, Wash.; and Jacksonville, Fla.
Gilliam is responsible for pulling the air wing together and seamlessly integrating it into the strike group.
"The biggest challenge for the air wing thus far has been the logistical feat of bringing together these multiple organizations and folding them into a single fighting unit," said Gilliam.
The initial step of uniting the air wing began in May with the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP) in Fallon, Nev. SFARP focused on providing individual squadrons with training on both weapons proficiency as well as essential fighter tactics. According to Gilliam, SFARP proved to be a great learning experience that successfully prepared the air wing for the integrated phase of the training cycle.
In June, CVW 9 began its initial assimilation aboard Stennis during Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA). TSTA proved to be the first opportunity for the air wing and the crew of Stennis to operate as a cohesive team.
TSTA also provided the air wing a chance to work on fundamental carrier landings, as well as to develop their flight deck crew's proficiency.
The third phase of the air wing work-up cycle, Air Wing Fallon, took place in July in Fallon, Nev. Air Wing Fallon was a monthlong training exercise that focused on pilot air-to-air and air-to-ground skill sets, as well as overall air wing proficiency. It was during this phase of the training cycle that pilots were able to hone their strike planning skills and execute various strike fighter missions.
For the air wing, it consists of multiple air defense and power projection exercises, with a daily operations tempo of 94-98 sorties per day.
The air wing has one more at-sea training exercise with the JCSSG in November before deployment. Gilliam said there are still some things the air wing has left to accomplish.
"Sustaining the high level of proficiency and expertise that we have recently obtained [is an upcoming challenge]. We would like to stay at this level of readiness all the way to the start of deployment and beyond," he said.
With the success of the air wing work-up cycle, as well as the seamless integration on board Stennis, CVW 9 will be prepared for deployment.
"Carrier Air Wing 9 is proud to be a part of John C. Stennis Strike Group, and I feel that together we have great potential. We are a coherent, cohesive team, ready to take on the task at hand," said Gilliam.
For related news, visit the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.