April 16, 2012 (by SrA Melissa Harvey) - Units in the Air Force Reserve are among those tasked with Air Sovereignty Alert missions. Proper training is vital in order to carry out this all-important mission of protecting America's air space.
Tauil detail of USAF F-16C block 30 #85-1412 from the 457th FS.
The 457th Fighter Squadron here is one such unit that will fulfill this role, should they be called upon. "There are a wide variety of mission sets that we partake in, that's one of them, air sovereignty," said Major Michael Barron, 457th chief of weapons.
In order to conduct this type of mission at any moment, readiness is essential.
Pilots recently completed a two-week Air Sovereignty Training mission in the Brady Military Operating Area with a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) unit based in San Antonio, Texas.
The goal is to both train pilots who have not gone through the course yet and to serve as a refresher course for those who have, he said.
"Its unique training, it's not something we do every day," Barron said.
As the auxiliary of the Air Force, CAP supported the training mission by flying the opposing aircraft.
"For the training we have the opportunity to use outside assets, the CAP aircraft, to help us in case we are called upon to scramble, launch, and intercept a person who doesn't have a radio and is flying to a restricted air space or flying a potentially stolen aircraft", Barron said.
"For us, it's a neat opportunity to be able to work with them, to be able to have that type of training," he said.
The biannual training is part of an upgrade program that pilots take part in, he said. Pilots who participate are from the squadron, 10th Air Force, and the Air Force Reserve Command, depending on their availability.
The training consists of both day and night flights, as well as simulator training and academics.
During flights, pilots are required to complete tasks such as identifying, monitoring, and redirecting an aircraft.
In the end, the contribution of CAP to the success of the training is not taken lightly, "The effort they put into it is pretty phenomenal," Barron said. "They are helping the defense of the United States and helping the military."