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Misawa fighter pilots prove best in AF

October 15, 2008 (by SSgt. Kelly White) - The 13th FS won top honors as the best F-16 squadron in the Air Force, and the 35th FW as top F-16 wing in the Air Force.

Capt. Jeffrey Schneider, Capt. Eric Freienmuth, and Capt. Michael Driscoll, pilots from the 13th FS walk off the flight line on October 16th, 2008. They won the award for best fighter squadron and wing during a 'virtual' air combat exercise flown from simulator cockpits around the globe. [USAF photo by SSgt. Araceli Alarcon]

This was achieved during the Air Force Air, Space and Information Operations' first Air Combat Command Combat Air Force-wide Distributed Mission Operations Turkey Shoot Sept. 22-26.

The unique facet of this competition is that it was all accomplished in simulators, using DMO, said Capt. Lawrence Sullivan, 13th Fighter Squadron pilot and turkey shoot project officer.

The DMO allowed Misawa's four F-16 simulators - in which pilots practice their primary tactics to include four F-16s versus any adversary they want, in any airspace in the world - to be linked with multiple other aircraft simulators across the globe, for a virtual "war."

"Air Combat Command developed a scenario that F-16 pilots around the world could all fly in," Captain Sullivan said. "It was designed to be the most difficult and dangerous combat mission we would ever see, one in which F-16s and B-1 (Lancer) bombers were tasked to destroy targets defended by droves of highly-advanced enemy fighters and surface-to-air missile systems. Since everyone had to face the same threats, they could develop a scoring system that would show who the best in the world actually are."

During the single-week event, a total of 68 F-16, nine Airborne Warning and Control System, 64 B-1 and 256 SU-27, MiG-29 and MiG-21 enemy aircraft "red air" simulated missions were accomplished, providing participants with nearly $9.1M worth of training.

In addition to the 13th FS, F-16 turkey shooters played from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; McEntire Air National Guard Station, S.C., combined with 3-man air weapons teams from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., to escort four B-1s.

"The role we had at Misawa was two-fold," said Capt. Jordan Carvell, 13th FS pilot and turkey shoot coordinator. "The first was striker escort, where we were responsible for shooting down any enemy aircraft that were trying to shoot the bombers down. For the SEAD/DEAD (suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses) role, our responsibility was to suppress and destroy the surface-to-air threats so the bombers could get to the target 'unharrassed.'"

"With DMO, we have a capability that others do not, and we're taking advantage of that at every opportunity we can," said Col. Jay Aanrud 13th FS commander. "This is a cost-effective method of very realistic training, interaction, and briefing and de-briefing that is not available anywhere else in the world or in any other country - friend or foe."

Colonel Aanrud added that he's pleased not only with the superb augmentation DMO brings to a fliers' training regimen but with his own fliers, as well.

"I'm very proud of the Panther Pilots for their performance and their ability to deliver results during a very busy time at Misawa."

Courtesy of 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Additional images:

Capt. Michael Driscoll, Capt. Jeffrey Schneider, and Capt. Eric Freienmuth, pilots from the 13th FS stand in front of an F-16 on October 16th, 2008. They are three fliers in the fourship that received individual accolades for their performance during the Air, Space and Information Operations first Air Combat Command Combat Air Force-wide Distributed Mission Operations Turkey Shoot. A Turkey Shoot is a scenario in which one team is outgunned, to the point of an inevitable loss, but still manages to win. [USAF photo by SSgt. Araceli Alarcon]