September 16, 2010 (by 1st Lt. Cammie Quinn) - The F-16 soars overhead just before the crowd can cover their ears, but the noise does nothing to quell the audience's growing enthusiasm while watching things explode on the ground.
USAF F-16D block 50 #91-0477 from the 13th FS fires high-angle strafe patterns using high explosive-incendiary ammunition during pre-deployment training at Draughon Range, north of Misawa AB on September 16th, 2010. [USAF photo by TSgt. Russell McBride]
Base family and friends gathered at Draughon Range, located north of Misawa Air Base, to watch the 13th Fighter Squadron demonstrate its skills during a training event, Sept. 16, 2010.
Pilots shot 20mm bullets from the F-16 at a target on the ground by performing high-angle strafe patterns using high-explosive-incendiary ammunition.
Misawa AB has a distinct advantage by having Draughon Range so close to the base, said Lt. Col. Timothy Lewis, 35th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations.
Training prepares the pilot for what he may see in a combat setting, Colonel Lewis said. It is important for the training environment to be as realistic as possible, which is exactly what the Draughon Range provides, he added.
"The range has undergone some significant improvements recently, and has shifted into a current-day, realistic target training area with applicable target arrays simulating today's threats," the colonel said. "Draughon Range is the only range in Japan with this type of capability."
The range recently added a simulated surface-to-air missile target array and a simulated anti-aircraft artillery threat emplacement, said Colonel Lewis. Also on the site is an urban village with vehicles and heat sources to help create a realistic setting for the pilots.
"Ultimately, we want to provide the aircrew a training environment where they can train like they fight, so when combat operations do start, they can fight like they train," Colonel Lewis said.
One pilot attending the training demonstration said the range is as true to life as it can be.
"The maneuvers they're performing here are exactly like what they're going to be called to do while deployed," said Capt. Ryan Cross, 14 FS
. "The pilots have to have pinpoint accuracy to minimize collateral damage. By performing high-angle strafe patterns, less damage occurs."
With this advantage in mind, guests and families were invited to watch service members in action, doing what they while deployed - a benefit to both the family member and the Airman, said Colonel Lewis.
"Guests are able to catch a glimpse at some of the combat capabilities and employment techniques used by the pilots," said the colonel. "They witness, firsthand, the primary reason we are all here - to support the war fighter and the war-fighting machine."
"Plus, it's pretty cool to see," he added.
One spouse agreed, and added after seeing the demonstration, she appreciates the hard work and many hands that helped get the plane off the ground.
"Seeing this incredible show is a testament to all the hard work both by the Airmen in maintenance and by the pilots flying the F-16s," said Alison Mock, wife of Capt. Justin Mock, 13 FS. "It's important to remember everyone who played a part in this."
This training is conducted several times throughout the year, not only in preparation for deployments, but also keeping in line with day-to-day training, said Colonel Lewis.
"Many training events take place, and we are fortunate enough to witness this specific event," he added.