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513th Reservists enable Navy pre-deployment training

Maintenance Airmen from the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron watch as a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter flies behind an E-3C Sentry on Aug. 24 at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. After each mission, the Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft requires careful inspection and checks to ensure safety of flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Maintenance Airmen from the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron watch as a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter flies behind an E-3C Sentry on Aug. 24 at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. After each mission, the Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft requires careful inspection and checks to ensure safety of flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

An E-3C Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft flown by reservists from the 513th Air Control Group takes off on Aug. 24 from Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. Maintenance and operations Airmen from the 513th supported naval operations by providing airborne command and control to ships and aircraft during Joint Task Force Exercise 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

An E-3C Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft flown by reservists from the 513th Air Control Group takes off on Aug. 24 from Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. Maintenance and operations Airmen from the 513th supported naval operations by providing airborne command and control to ships and aircraft during Joint Task Force Exercise 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Maintenance Airmen from the 513th Air Control Group wait for an E-3C Sentry to complete shutdown procedures Aug. 24 after completing a training mission at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. The 513th maintenance reservists accompany every off-station training mission to provide routine checks as well as repairs if needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Maintenance Airmen from the 513th Air Control Group wait for an E-3C Sentry to complete shutdown procedures Aug. 24 after completing a training mission at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. The 513th maintenance reservists accompany every off-station training mission to provide routine checks as well as repairs if needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Master Sgt. Justin Sproles, a communication and navigation specialist assigned to the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, pushes a fire extinguisher into place Aug. 24 at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., after an E-3C Sentry completed a training mission as part of Joint Task Force Exercise 2015. The 513th maintenance reservists accompany every off-station training mission to provide routine checks as well as repairs if needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

Master Sgt. Justin Sproles, a communication and navigation specialist assigned to the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, pushes a fire extinguisher into place Aug. 24 at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., after an E-3C Sentry completed a training mission as part of Joint Task Force Exercise 2015. The 513th maintenance reservists accompany every off-station training mission to provide routine checks as well as repairs if needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

An E-3C Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft flown by reservists from the 513th Air Control Group touches down on Aug. 20 at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., after flying from its home station at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Maintenance and operations Airmen from the 513th are supporting naval operations by providing airborne command and control to ships and aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

An E-3C Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft flown by reservists from the 513th Air Control Group touches down on Aug. 20 at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., after flying from its home station at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Maintenance and operations Airmen from the 513th are supporting naval operations by providing airborne command and control to ships and aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Reservists from the 513th Air Control Group returned last week from Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California, where they provided Airborne Warning and Control System support to the Navy's Joint Task Force Exercise off the coast of Southern California.

The exercise, led by the Navy's 3rd Fleet, served as an evaluation of Carrier Strike Group 3's ability to perform strike, anti-submarine and anti-air warfare before deploying. More than 8,000 service members participated at sea, on the coast or in the air.

Capt. Nick Petersen, an air weapons officer assigned to the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron, served as the liaison officer to the exercise's combined air operations center, which acted as a central command for aircraft in the exercise.

"We were asked to come out to this exercise because we offer a command and control capability that, frankly, the carrier can't provide," Petersen said. "For deep look, for deep strike, for looking far into country, that's where the AWACS comes in. That's where we offer our value."

In his first experience as a liaison officer with the Navy, Petersen was impressed with the service's ability to complete its mission in its own style.

"The Navy, by design, works much differently than the other branches," he said. "They do their job, and do it very well. It's really fun to learn more about how they do it, compare it to how we do it, and then find the best way to work together to complete the mission."

During the exercise, every takeoff and mission was completed as scheduled without any delays or maintenance issues. 

"There's no way that we could support JTFX, support the Navy or support any war without our maintainers," Petersen said. "They work directly in line with our operators to ensure that the mission is being fulfilled, and that's exactly how this weapons system is designed to operate."

Maj. Mark Vardaro, the maintenance operations officer for the 513th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said the perfect flying record during the exercise was no coincidence.

"We had traditional reservists as well as an active-duty member on the trip," Vardaro said. "It was a great opportunity for team building as well as training. We were totally focused on the mission at hand, whether it was launching aircraft or recovering them, or getting them ready and prepped for the next flight. Everybody did exactly what they came here to do."

While conducting missions in the area, the 513th also provided additional surveillance for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's Air and Marine Operations Center, which is responsible for homeland security and counter-drug operations throughout the continental United States.

"Our AWACS provides excellent surveillance capability that the AMOC doesn't normally have," said Col. David Robertson, the 513th Air Control Group Commander. "Not only do they appreciate the additional radar picture, but it provides some great real-world experience for our own surveillance technicians."