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Tyndall F-22s fly in Combat Archer

October 16, 2013 (by A1C Alex Echols) - Several Team Tyndall units combined forces during an in place deployment September 16 to 27 to test weapons and build teamwork in a deployment-like environment while saving the taxpayer dollars.

A crew chief guides an F-22 pilot while he parks during an in-place deployment on Tyndall's flightline on September 19th, 2013. They were participating in WSEP, the Air Combat Command's air-to-air Weapon System Evaluation Program also known as Combat Archer. [USAF photo by A1C. Alex Echols]

During this event, the 43rd Fighter Squadron participated in the 53rd Wing's air-to-air Weapon System Evaluation Program, or Combat Archer.

"WSEP provides fielded development evaluations for our combat air forces," said Lt. Col. Christian Kane, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron commander. "This allows us to evaluate the true combat capabilities of our entire weapon systems: personnel [operators and maintainers], aircraft and air-to-air missiles."

During a normal WSEP, ACC would fund squadrons to come to Tyndall for temporary duty, costing approximately $500,000 for each unit participating. With the in place deployment of the 43rd FS, there was essentially no accrued cost, Kane said.

The 43rd FS, the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 83rd FWS pooled their resources to make this WSEP possible. The 83rd FWS Combat Archer facilitated the in-place deployment by providing the missions the 43rd FS must complete as well as assessing their ability to complete them.

"We were simultaneously hosts and evaluators," Kane said. "Temporary duty units and the 325th Fighter Wing are given realistic taskings to perform, including generating sorties, loading live weapons and shooting them. The units operate out of 83rd FWS facilities, and we evaluate how well they perform those taskings."

The feedback from the evaluations the squadron received are vital to enhancing their success and continual growth in a deployed environment.

"The training provided for all involved during the exercise significantly improves our capabilities and familiarity," said Capt. Daniel Tompkins, 43rd FS. "Starting with the weapons shop that builds and loads the missiles, to the pilot hitting the weapons release button and especially the data collected during and after the missile leaves the aircraft. The knowledge gained by putting our weapon system to the test is invaluable."

During the WSEP, the 43rd FS fired 17 live missiles and 2,000 rounds of 20 millimeter rounds from the aerial guns.

"Our in place deployment consisted of eight F-22s Raptors and 84 personnel to evaluate and test the man-machine-missile," Tompkins said. This evaluation will provide essential data on overall missile performance and aircraft capability."

With the asset of WSEP located on the same installation as the 43rd FS, it is a perfect fit to have them participate and experience this deployment-like environment.

"The in-place deployment has been a true testament of what the 43rd FS and 43rd AMU can do as a team while utilizing a deployed mindset," Tompkins said. "We were able to provide the 83 FWS support to meet necessary requirements as well as increase the familiarity/lethality of our future F-22 pilots. Without a doubt, this in-place deployment has been a tremendous success."

The 83rd FWS is a geographically separated unit of the 53rd WG, located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Courtesy of 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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