SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Maj. “Swat” received a hero’s welcome from members of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing as she surpassed the 1,000 combat hour milestone in the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Feb. 13, 2016.
Swat, a weapon systems officer assigned to the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, achieved the milestone during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“The hour milestones in the jet are big deals,” said Capt. Rowdy, a 391 EFS pilot who accompanied Swat on the mission. “Our opportunity to accrue hours is finite, and every one of them is special. To reach 1,000 hours in a category as unique as combat time is pretty special, it means someone has invested a lot of time and effort into their job.”
Achieving this milestone is a career defining moment for any F-15E aircrew member, even more so for females, which make up approximately 10% of the Strike Eagle pilot and WSO community.
“With so much time as a close air support subject matter expert, she is well versed in integrating with the joint terminal attack controllers,” said Rowdy who has been flying with Swat since 2010. “She can take broken and barely intelligible communications on a secure radio and efficiently turn it in to mission success for the ground forces.”
Swat logged her first combat sortie in 2009, during the first of her two tours in Afghanistan, and has compiled more than 1600 flying hours and 220 combat sorties during her career.
“Reaching this milestone to me represents my willingness to serve and protect Americans in a flying capacity each time I go out and fly,” said Swat. “I’m very proud to serve and keep the enemy here instead of being back at home.”
She was also a member of the historic Dudette 07 mission in 2011, which was the first F-15E Air Force combat mission comprised entirely of female aircrew members.
“You can count on Swat to be thorough and reliable in her job,” said Rowdy. “Her performance is nothing short of what you would expect from an experienced and professional aviator; it goes to show it doesn't matter what your gender is - the girls can hang with the best of them, and are capable of being the best themselves.”
(Editor's note: The names of Major “Swat” and Captain “Rowdy” were withheld due to security and safety reasons.)