23 WG assesses Avon Park after Hurricane Ian > Air Combat Command > News

Using the HH-60W Jolly Green II aircraft from the 41st Rescue Squadron, the 23rd Wing conducted an aerial survey to assess damage to facilities and flooded areas over an area of ​​106,000 acres. Additionally, they determined the range’s accessibility for future training exercises and identified areas for improvement to help prevent damage in future natural disasters.

“Avon Park Air Force Range experienced minor water and wind damage to several buildings in our complex,” said Lt. Col. Michael Ryan, 598th Range Squadron (RANS) commander. “We have work to do to repair the roads that have been washed away. Thanks to the dedication of our staff, we were able to resume our activities even before the full reopening of the base. We have lost zero mission capability and will continue to provide combat capability to the fighter. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Ian.

During the visit, the leaders met with members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Interagency Hotshot Aircrew Flathead, who used Moody AFB’s Geographically Separated Unit (GSU) as a staging area to support an area of ​​South Florida impacted by a disaster.

“Avon Park was a perfect location to organize and execute the temporary emergency supply mission,” said USACE Honolulu District Military Liaison Officer Chief Warrant Officer 2 Maksym Zymin. “With plenty of room for generators and material handling equipment, we had the ability to establish the generator storage base with the ability to expand the operation when needed.”

Per Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines, Flathead Hotshots provided pavement clearance capabilities for downed trees and debris while USACE provided power to various facilities, including hospitals, shelters, police and fire stations, etc.

“Avon Park has the infrastructure to assist federal, state, local and civilian entities in conducting disaster relief operations in central and south Florida,” said Col. Russ Cook, commanding officer of the 23rd Wing. “As a result, Avon Park was able to provide the space necessary to organize personnel and support equipment, especially emergency power generation, close to the needs of South Florida residents after the hurricane. Ian. 23 Wing is proud of the support we have provided and will always be ready in the future if needed.

Besides Avon Park’s infrastructural support when needed, the range is primarily used to conduct large-scale exercises. It is Air Combat Command’s largest air-to-ground and ground-to-ground training facility east of the Mississippi River and is home to the 598th RANS, an GSU of the 23rd Fighter Group.

According to Cook, Avon Park is an ideal site for training Agile Combat Employment, the wing framework for conducting lead wing operations.

The 23rd Wing will continue to preserve the Avon Park Air Force Range and its lasting impact on the Wing’s mission and, if necessary, its disaster relief support.

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