TransPac Mace in Your Face

  • Jul 22, 2015 10:51am GMT

It seems like VFA-27 (Strike Fighter Squadron 27), in addition to keeping the world safe from the spread of despotic, totalitarian communism, is all about making some great videos. What else do you do during the 5-6 months of bad flying weather in Japan, you ask? Spend a few months back in the continental United States (CONUS) swapping jets and getting some invaluable training, and make cool videos for the sailors and families to enjoy on YouTube of course!

VFA-27 is a single seat, F/A-18E squadron assigned to Carrier Air Wing 5 in Atsugi, Japan. Most of their videos you’ve seen on ATA and YouTube show them flying in and around Japan, and their main stomping ground – The entire Western Pacific Ocean. Their boat is USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) - homeported down the road in Yokosuka. Occasionally, the Maces come home for a good pizza and American movies without subtitles.

For those who are unfamiliar, a "TransPac" is a trans-oceanic flight across (as the name implies) the Pacific Ocean. TransLants are flights that (you guessed it) do NOT cross the Indian Ocean… or the Pacific. Basically, it's how we, and most other countries that fly tactical fighters, get our jets from where they are born and grow up (airplanes are people too, you know) to where they work. This is faster and cheaper than putting them on a boat, but does come with some increased risk. Since no tactical fighter carries enough gas to make the long flight in one shot, coordination is required for the assignment of big-wing tankers like KC-135s, KC-10s, or (in the future) KC-46s to ‘drag’ fighter aircraft across the pond. The jets carry roughly ten to twenty thousand pounds of fuel and burn between five and eight thousand pounds an hour thus, aerial refueling is a necessity. And at 2,100+ nautical miles, no more so than on the leg between Hawaii and California. Since tanking occurs at speeds slower than normal cruising speed, the flights take a bit longer than your average commercial airliner. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that fighter aircrew are sitting in a space roughly the size of a large bathtub – that’s been filled with four or five old computers (not laptops). Getting up to stretch your legs is not an option. Suffice to say, these trips take a few days to complete.

All that said, these trips offer the chance to visit some places very few get to see; like Wake Island: "Where America's Day Really Begins." It also offers other unique opportunities, like promoting and re-enlisting your sailors on the Memorial of the USS Arizona. For squadrons like the Royal Maces, who are permanently forward deployed, there are several reasons requiring them to TransPac. Major airframe upgrades and transfers, participation in large exercises, and supporting their aircrew attending fighter weapons school (Top Gun) are some of those reasons.

Enjoy the video.