NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — A Russian MiG-23 fighter aircraft nicknamed “Captain Carlisle” was dedicated in honor of Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, during an Oct. 17 ceremony at the Threat Training Facility here.
Col. Samantha Weeks, 57th Adversary Tactics Group commander, opened the ceremony with praise for the aircraft’s namesake.
“It is my honor to be with you today as we dedicate an aircraft to one of the finest fighter pilots in our Air Force and one that I have been fortunate enough to work for almost my entire career,” said Weeks. “To have command of one of his prior assignments is a huge responsibility and one that I am forever grateful.
Weeks went on to say “Gen. Carlisle has flown more than 3,600 flight hours in seven different fighter aircraft and currently leads over 94,000 Airmen as the ACC commander and while we are here today to dedicate a MiG-23 in his name, I know he would rather make this event about the men and women, pilots and maintainers who devoted themselves to the 4477th CONSTANT PEG.”
CONSTANT PEG was a program named after Maj. Gen. Hoyt S. “Sandy” Vandenberg, whose call sign was “CONSTANT” and “PEG”, the wife of Maj. Gaillard Peck, who initiated the program while working for Vandenberg at the Pentagon.
The mission of CONSTANT PEG was to train Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps combat fighter aircrews on the best ways to fight and win when encountering MiGs in aerial combat. Carlisle was the chief of weapons and tactics as well as flight commander for the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base from 1986 to 1988.
After Weeks’ speech the official dedication portion of the ceremony followed with the unveiling of the nicknamed “Captain Carlisle” MiG-23. Carlisle then took to the podium for brief remarks praising the legacy of CONSTANT PEG.
“We’re approaching 44 years where we have not lost an airplane, thanks to the tough lessons we learned,” said Carlisle. “Since 1972, the Air Force has not lost an airplane in air-to-air combat. Oh and by the way, April 15, 1953 was the last time a Soldier had to worry about an enemy airplane dropping a bomb on them.”
Carlisle went on to add, “It’s amazing to think about what our Air Force has done. Those lessons we learned coming out of Vietnam were difficult lessons, but the key point in that statement is we learned the lessons. So, I guess the bottom line to that whole thing is, if you’re in a country that’s an enemy of the United States and you fly for that country the short answer is, it sucks to be you.”
The mach-2 capable MiG-23 Flogger was one of the most-produced and capable Soviet aircraft of the Cold War. It was the first Soviet aircraft to feature variable sweep wings and paved the way for the equally-capable MiG-27 Flogger ground strike variant.
Carlisle ended his remarks with praise for the young Airmen in attendance.
“Our successors should be better than us if we’re going to maintain being the best Air Force in the entire world. There is no doubt in my mind that all the folks that are here today, the people that they train, are going to be better than them and that’s the way it has to be. So my hat is off to all the young men and women that raised their right hands to defend the Constitution and defend us, it means more to us than you can imagine.”