This story, originally published on Feb. 26, has been updated.
Women only make up about 10 percent of F-15E pilot and the weapon systems officer community. And "Major Jennifer" is one of them.
Jennifer, whose last name was withheld for operational security reasons, hit her 1,000 combat flight-hour milestone in the Strike Eagle on Feb. 13 while flying missions against the Islamic State group, the Air Force said.
Jennifer is a weapon systems officer with the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The WSO, often called "wizzos," are the air flight officers who ride behind the pilot, maintain the aircraft's systems and can operate as mission commanders.
“The hour milestones in the jet are big deals,” Capt. Kevin, a 391st EFS pilot, said in the release. "Captain Kevin," whose last name was also withheld, accompanied Jennifer on the mission under Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Our opportunity to accrue hours is finite, and every one of them is special," he said. "To reach 1,000 hours in a category as unique as combat time is pretty special; it means someone has invested a lot of time and effort into their job.”
Kevin said, "it goes to show it doesn't matter what your gender is — the girls can hang with the best of them, and are capable of being the best themselves.”
Jennifer flew her first combat sortie in 2009 during the first of her two tours in Afghanistan, and has compiled more than 1,600 flying hours and 220 combat sorties during her career; she was also a member of the historic Dudette 07 mission in 2011, the first F-15E Air Force combat mission comprised entirely of female aircrew members, the release said.
Landing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia after her 1,000th hour, Jennifer said she is "proud to serve and keep the enemy here instead of being back at home.”
Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East, Europe and Pacific for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.