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Irish Air Corps visits 20th Air Force

  • Published
  • By Glenn S. Robertson
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Members of the Irish Air Corps recently visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Aug. 8-12, 2022, for a weeklong sharing of experiences and ideas.

Col. David Corcoran, Chief Air Staff Operations; Commandant Colin Duffy, Ratings and Standards, No. 3 Operations Wing Headquarters; and Sgt. Matthew Carroll, Rear Crew Instructor; spent a week meeting and flying with personnel from 20th Air Force, the 90th Missile Wing, 582nd Helicopter Group and the 37th Squadron.

The Irish aviators were invited by Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, commander of 20th Air Force, to develop an understanding of helicopter employment in Air Force Global Strike Command by observing flight operations and talking with aircrew and Tactical Response Force airmen serving in 20 AF. The U.S. Air Force is currently transitioning to the MH-139 “Grey Wolf” helicopter, an aircraft that the Irish Air Corps is very familiar with. 

“Cross-talks like this serve the valuable purpose of fostering ties between partner nations, but this one has an extra, added benefit to the helicopter group and squadrons of 20th Air Force,” said Lutton. “Since the Irish Air Corps has been flying a variant of our ‘Grey Wolf’ for about 16 years, we can share operational and tactical-level concepts to lead-turn the onboarding of our new aircraft at our missile bases. We also look forward to members of the helicopter group travelling to Ireland this fall to continue our partnership.”

During the tour, the Irish Air Corps members attended several briefs and demonstrations, but also got the opportunity to join pilots and crew from the 37 HS in flying the UH-1N “Huey” to show how helicopters are utilized in their tactical security mission for 20th Air Force. As the week came to a close, the cross-talk had allowed for more than just an operational understanding – it had led to relationships being built and a foundation for further conversation between the two entities.

“This is a great opportunity to build new relationships with the 20th Air Force, which we haven’t really had,” said Corcoran. “We’ve been flying the AW-139 for about 16 years, and this gives us the chance as fellow aviators to discuss the capabilities of the new aircraft and assist in the introduction of service of the Grey Wolf with a focus on aviation safety and professional exchange of our experience.” 

There was also an opportunity for the visitors to discuss how the helicopters fit into securing the missile field with personnel from 90th Missile Security Operations Squadron’s TRF, as well as observing several demonstrations from the defenders. Those opportunities allowed the Irish Airmen to better discuss how the Grey Wolf can and will fit into the mission upon its arrival.

The visit ended positively all around, with a plan for members of 20 AF to return the favor and go to Ireland in the near future. 

“The Irish Air Corps has extensive operational experience on the  AW139 to share and equally has a lot to learn from the professional aviators of the 582nd from their experience of flying helicopters for many decades – the warmth of the welcome & hospitality we have received during the visit was superb in every way,” said Corcoran. 
"I expect that this is just the beginning of a symbiotic and fruitful relationship.”

Coincidentally, the U.S. Air Force and the Irish Air Corps share milestone birthdays this year, with the Irish Air Corps celebrating their 100th anniversary while the USAF celebrates their 75th.