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Tinker air weapons officer, Destrehan native, supports airborne warning and control mission from Southwest Asia base

First Lt. Sean Fazande is an air weapons officer with the 965th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia. Here he is pictured with the main airframe, the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, that he flies on to do is job. Deployed from the 965th AACS at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., the lieutenant is a prior U.S. Navy aircraft mechanic who became an Air Force officer. The lieutenant's hometown is Destrehan, La.  (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol/Released)

First Lt. Sean Fazande is an air weapons officer with the 965th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia. Here he is pictured with the main airframe, the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, that he flies on to do is job. Deployed from the 965th AACS at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., the lieutenant is a prior U.S. Navy aircraft mechanic who became an Air Force officer. The lieutenant's hometown is Destrehan, La. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol/Released)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Every time 1st Lt. Sean Fazande steps into an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control plane, its distinctive radar disc on top and all, he thinks about how rare it is to be part of such a special mission.

Deployed with the 965th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron, the air weapons officer has been in the Air Force for three years after spending 10 years in the U.S. Navy as an enlisted man. Now, the first lieutenant deployed from the 965th AACS at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., said his work in the AWACS platform has a significant impact on deployed operations.

"As an air weapons officer, I control military aircraft through radios and radar systems in order to ensure deconfliction of aircraft and air support for ground troops," said Lieutenant Fazande, whose hometown is Destrehan, La. "Flying in the E-3 Sentry allows me to perform this job anywhere in the world at any time."

The E-3 mission platform, according to its Air Force fact sheet, provides situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied and coalition operations.

"We are able to bring command and control to the war where ground command and control are unable to see," Lieutenant Fazande said. "We bring a broad spectrum picture to the war that no other platform is able to."

Major subsystems in the E-3 are avionics, navigation, communications, sensors (radar and passive detection) and identification tools, the fact sheet also shows. The mission suite includes consoles that display computer-processed data in graphic and tabular format on video screens. Mission crew members like Lieutenant Fazande perform surveillance, identification, weapons control, battle management and communications functions.

In his 13 years of combined Air Force and Navy service, Lieutenant Fazande said he's always believed that what he's been a part of in serving is something special.

"I believe what we fight for out here, giving these nations a chance to have a say in how they live and to feel true freedom, will only solidify the freedoms we enjoy back home," Lieutenant Fazande said. "When a free world stands together against terrorism and tyranny, as it is beginning to do now, progress towards a safe and united future for our loved ones and future generations will start to shine through. Hope for a better future and the safety of my family is why I serve."

The 965th EAACS is an attached unit of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. The 380th AEW is comprised of four groups and 12 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. The wing supports Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.