February 26, 2013 (by SSgt. Kenny Holston) - The 79th Fighter Squadron 'Tigers' launched eight F-16 Fighting Falcons during a day and night time mission to kickoff of Red Flag 13-3 on February 25.
Crew chiefs assigned to the 20th AMXS perform their final checks before launching eight F-16s assigned to the 79th FS 'Tigers' during day one of Red Flag 13-3 on February 25th, 2013. The 'Tigers' launched a total of 16 times during day and night time missions to kick off the exercise. [USAF photo by SSgt. Kenny Holston]
The 79th FS
, commanded by Lt. Col. Jason Plourde, led members of his unit from takeoff to landing as the exercise kicked off .
The unit out of Shaw AFB
, S.C., has approximately 15 F-16 Fighting Falcons on the ground and 35 pilots slated to fly throughout the three-week long exercise.
As Red Flag gets underway, Plourde plans to ensure the men and women of his unit train hard and meet quite a few set objectives.
"I have several goals for the squadron during Red Flag," Plourde said. "First, every pilot will become more proficient and experienced at operating in an extremely challenging contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment against a very robust surface and airborne threat array."
While members of the 79th FS
conduct similar types of training at Shaw, Red Flag offers a more vast and more challenging environment to train in, Plourde explained.
"At Shaw, we do train to contested and degraded operations, as well as a fairly realistic surface and air threat," Plourde continued. "However, Red Flag and Nellis AFB offer significantly challenging and realistic adversaries -- many more threats and in large, less restrictive airspace than is available at our home station."
While Plourde pushes members of the 79th FS to meet goals and hone skills, the top goal he hopes to reach is the sustainment of sufficient combat training in preparation for any real world missions his unit may be called on to do.
"I expect each pilot will build their confidence and proficiency at dominating the Red Flag threats, which is an essential building block to preparation for actual combat at the highest level," Plourde said.
As day turned to night and 79th pilots completed their last missions to round out day one of Red Flag, members of the fighter squadron were exhausted but ready for challenges the next days and weeks will bring.
The missions conducted during the first day were challenging but 79th pilots feel they will provide plenty of opportunity for lessons learned, explained Capt. Ryan Miller, 79th weapons officer.