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Alabama pilots to train in Florida

March 10, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - Pilots from 100 Fighter Squadron from Dannelly Field's 187th Fighter Wing headed to Tyndall AFB to fly training missions against the F-22.

Six F-16s and 114 personnel headed to Florida on Sunday. In additions to flying against the F-22s, Air Guard pilots from Alabama will also get to shoot live missiles.

They won't be shooting at the planes, but at drones that are controlled from the ground. Sometimes, operators manoeuvre the drones to avoid being destroyed, since they're a limited asset, Maj. Chris Germann said.

The Guard pilots get to drop bombs at a range in Mississippi during normal training, but shooting the live missiles is a rare treat, Germann said.

"It's one of those things that when you do it, you're nervous as heck," he said. "It's something that you don't want to screw up."

The missile training is useful practice for pilots if they're called up for combat operations.

"We try to give everybody a shot," Capt. Jason Patten said. He's flown against the Raptors and fired missiles before, so he said the younger pilots would do the most missile firing. "We don't usually get to see it come off the rails, instead of letting the computer calculate it like we usually do."

Tyndall is the home of the F-22 pilot training school. During the two-week training exercise, F-16 pilots will pretend to defend a target and the Raptor pilots will try to sneak in and hit the target and vice versa, Germann said.

F-16 pilots use different tactics than F-22 pilots, so the exercise will allow them to practice responding to different manoeuvres and have a broader base of experience to draw from if they end up in combat, Germann went on to say.