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Jets temporarily staged at Santa Maria airport for military training

Posted at 4:08 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 22:31:12-05

You may have noticed some military-type jets flying around the Central Coast lately, particularly in the Santa Maria area.

Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) has temporarily based a group of Mk-58 Hawker Hunters (1960s-era British Strike Fighters) and F-21 Kfirs (1970s-era Israeli Interceptors) at the Santa Maria Public Airport. The aircraft are typically based out of Naval Air Station Point Mugu in Ventura, but the runways there are closed for resurfacing.

ATAC is a contractor for the Department of Defense. While staged in Santa Maria, the planes will reportedly be supporting U.S. Navy training off the coast of Big Sur and San Diego.

Officials say the Santa Maria airport was chosen as a staging area because of its proximity to the Navy's overwater training ranges off the California coast.

The aircraft have been in Santa Maria since mid-December and are expected to remain at the airport until March.

Twenty-five people make up the crew of pilots and support personnel.

ATAC also supports the Marine Corps and Air Force with training on specific air-to-air intercept, detection and engagement scenarios.