August 2, 2007 (by SrA Stefanie Torres) - The F-16s from the 4th Fighter Squadron "Fightin' Fuujins" will be the first in the wing to deploy with new technology and with Reservists by their side.
Close up on the boss tail markings for USAF F-16C block 40 #88-0495 from the 4th FS on June 3rd, 2006 at Hill AFB. [Photo by Duane Kaiser]
For more than four months as part of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotation, about 300 personnel from the 4th FS
and 30 volunteers from the 419th Fighter Wing will deploy to Southwest Asia in August to work with coalition ground troops in support of the Global War on Terror.
The squadron has been training with new equipment that will ensure a more successful combat deployment.
"We have been training heavily for the past four months in preparation for this rotation," said Lt. Col. Andrew Hecht, 4th FS commander.
The F-16s at Hill Air Force Base were equipped with Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN
, pods but have switched to the new Sniper XR pods, allowing for more precise targeting at a greater range.
"The Sniper XR is the next generation targeting pod," said Colonel Hecht. The pod offers a TV-mode that allows for a zoomed in picture from miles away, laser-spot search and track-infrared pointer, and a video down-link capability that the LANTIRN didn't have.
The Sniper XR is only a part of what the 4th FS has upgraded to in the past year. Also, the F-16s within the 388th FW have upgraded through a process called the Common Configuration Implementation Program.
With these advancements, pilots have been training with new helmets called the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, or JHMCS. The helmets offer the look-and-shoot affect. Pilots need only to point their head at the target and sensors and weapons will be directed to where the pilot is looking.
"It's to the point where if your eyes can see it, then your weapons systems can see it," said Maj. Lee Dewald, a flight commander in the 4th FS.
The squadron will have another first in their background, explained Major Dewald. New radios will also help deployed members with ground communication.
"The ARC 210 improves communication with better reliability, enhanced range, and a greater frequency spectrum," said Colonel Hecht. "We can communicate that much easier."
"Unless we are communicating, we have no way of integrating into the coalition fight," said Major Dewald. "With the old system, it's like standing next to a huge fan. You have to yell across to get them to hear."
Along with the new equipment, members of the Reserve 419th Fighter Wing at Hill have volunteered to go with the 4th and serve side-by-side.
The association between the active-duty and Reserve fighter units here is the first of its kind in the Air Force.
"The Reservists bring a lot of combat and F-16 experience. This will definitely improve our performance during the deployment," said Colonel Hecht. "They are fully integrated with us as a team."