July 13, 2015 (by Anthony Cornelius) - During the past COANG drill weekend (July 10th- 12th) the Colorado ANG Vipers, better known as the “Redeyes”, hosted an event at Buckley AFB to practice Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT).
USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0237 from the 120th FS was flying as RedEye 2-1, spotted here on finals for a low approach to runway 32 at Buckley AFB. [Photo by Anthony Cornelius]
Participants included F/A-18C Hornets from VMFA-314, Black Knights based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. and F/A-18F Super Hornets from VFA-213, Black Lions based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Viginia.
Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) was integrated into Air Combat training after poor turnover rates during the Vietnam War. The original purpose of DACT is to better prepare pilots for what they might face in a real-life air combat situation by simulating Soviet MiGs with similar US aircraft
Day one consisted of multiple flights of three taking off in the early morning going out to “Furball” (dogfight). Flights consisted of 2 Vipers and 1 Hornet. They would go out and combat for about an hour and then recover into Buckley via overhead break or the combat initial.
Day two was a lot faster paced and consisted of a single mass-launch. A flight of 2 Hornets took off followed by 3 Hornets only seconds after. After their departure, the RedEyes got the “go” from tower and launched 8 F-16s in total, broken into 2 separate flights, to chase the Hornets.
The training was an excellent way for the pilots and maintenance personnel to better prepare themselves for a real-world experience while deployed to an active war zone. It was also a way for the Air National Guard, Navy, and Marine assets to work as one. They are able to widen their knowledge with potential threats they don’t normally experience when flying out of their home fields against jets from their own squadrons.