July 31, 2007 (by Chrissy Cuttita) - Six F-16s and approximately 77 Airmen deployed to Tyndall AFB, for two weeks to play "red air" against the F-22 Raptor all in the name of training.
Maintainers get ready to launch F-16s participating in the F-22 training syllabus at Tyndall on July 30th, 2007. Six F-16s and approximately 77 personnel deployed from Luke AFB. [USAF photo by SSgt. Vesta Anderson]
"Luke F-16s are here to provide dissimilar air combat training for the 43rd Fighter Squadron F-22s," said Maj. Lance Pilch, 43rd FS
deputy of operations. "They fly in F-22 student syllabus missions and specific scenarios. This increases the proficiency of the F-22 students and instructor pilots and provides valuable cross-talk to share F-22 and F-16 lessons learned and integrates (them) fully."
Pilots from the 62nd FS, Luke AFB
, replicated the latest advanced "red air" threats. "We are dedicated to do the best we can to try and challenge them (43rd FS) given the constraints we have," said Capt. Bryan Dalton, 62nd FS assistant chief of scheduling.
Back home in Arizona, Luke pilots keep busy getting F-16 basic course students through the "pipline" so they are familiar with Air Force pilot training.
"We enjoy bringing Luke squadrons to Tyndall to fly with us, because other field training units understand what syllabus training is all about," said Major Pilch. "They work with us to give the students exactly what they need to become air dominance experts."
Working with Luke pilots are their maintainers who arrived on Tyndall for the experience of deployment and performing their mission on a runway far from home. They packed up their equipment, loaded up a KC-10 Extender and headed to Tyndall where they set up shop in a building recently dedicated to visiting squadrons.
"The most qualified and unit's best came here," said Lt. Dustin Dedmore, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant officer in charge, who said it took three months to research and pick Airmen for the deployment.
The 62nd AMU had to be flexible in following a schedule of two flights a weekday that each had four aircraft.
It's not the first time the 43rd FS has put another unit's name tags on their life-support lockers and it won't be the last.
"Many other F-16 squadrons have trained with the 43rd FS, from bases all across the country," said Major Pilch. "We have had F-16, F-15 Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-117A Nighthawk, and other units train with the F-22. The 62nd FS is a group of outstanding fighter pilots."
Captain Dalton said that interaction with Raptor pilots, who are former F-15 Eagle or F-16 Viper drivers, during debriefs helped them learn the capabilities of the F-22, fulfilling their curiosity of what flying a Raptor is like.