August 20, 2010 (by Capt. Ashley Conner) - Any pilot flying sorties during Red Flag-Alaska can expect long days filled with mission planning, and pre and post flight briefings.
Maj. Chad Feucht, a Reserve F-22 pilot assigned to the 477th FG, prepares for a sortie during Red Flag Alaska 10-4 on August 17th, 2010. In his civilian job Major Feucht is Lockheed-Martin’s lead F-22 mission support software engineer for the 3rd Wing. [USAF photo by Capt. Ashley Conner]
Maj. Chad Feucht, 302nd Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor pilot, is fulfilling his Reserve flying commitment during the realistic 10-day air combat training exercise, but is also working his civilian job as the 3rd Wing's lead F-22 mission support software engineer for Lockheed Martin.
As a software support engineer Major Feucht is coordinating with the squadron weapons shops to optimize programs and lethality of the F-22.
"There is so much cross over between both my civilian and military jobs," he said. "Being a pilot, a mission commander and weapons officer makes me a better software engineer and vice versa."
On days when Major Feucht is not mission planning and flying sorties for Red Flag he can be found in the vault of the Red Flag building ensuring the integrity of the F-22's software system.
During RF-Alaska missions, Major Feucht and 14 other reserve pilots assigned to the 477th Fighter Group integrate with their active duty counterparts in the 90th and 525th Fighter Squadron's under the 3rd Wing.
"During normal training there is seamless integration with the active duty squadrons," said Lt. Col. Hubie Hegtvedt, 302nd Fighter Squadron commander. "In Red Flag it is no different."
After Air Force leaders noticed high casualty rates in deployed combat engagements, RF-Alaska's were established in the early 1990's is to give pilots their first 10 combat missions in a safer environment. The first RF-Alaska was held in 1992.
Our top priority during red flags is to ensure that young pilots are receiving the combat training they need to go to war, said Colonel Hegtvedt. Our second priority is to get new F-22 pilots combat training, regardless of their prior fighter aircraft experience.
As a former F-16 pilot Major Feucht falls into the second category of pilots.
"In the F-16 I probably flew in over 16 different flag exercises," the major said. "Nothing compares to training in RF-Alaska because of the F-22s situational awareness. It acts as a force multiplier and it increases other aircrafts lethality and survivability.
"The flying operations are geographically separated between here and Eielson and the size of the range allows for more realistic training."
The 477th Fighter Group has integrated with the 3rd Wing' s active duty flying squadrons during normal flying operations and RF-Alaska exercises since the group stood up in 2007.