An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Feb. 1, 2011

Air National Guard fighter wing preps for alert missions at Tyndall

By Angela Pope AFNORTH

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Shooting down enemy aircraft over American soil is an event U.S.-based alert pilots train for.

They run exercise scenarios on a constant basis, preparing for that call to scramble. But all the dry runs in the world can’t prepare a pilot for that moment when a live missile is released from the jet.

That’s why the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn., is spending two weeks here working with the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group.

“We came here to shoot missiles and drop live ordnance to be better prepared for our Air Sovereignty Alert mission,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Reed Bowman, 148th FW Block 50 conversion officer. “We also came to the WEG to validate our new weapons system.”

The 148th FW, which supports the Continental U.S. NORAD Region in carrying out Operation Noble Eagle – the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 – is currently in the process of replacing its Block 25 F-16s with better equipped Block 50 F-16s that have different engines and internal avionics. The upgraded airframe will enhance the wing’s ability to support ASA missions.

The 53rd WEG, a detachment of the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., provides the Duluth pilots an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often.

 “The last time we were here and had the opportunity to shoot live missiles was 2000,” Bowman said.

During their two-week stay, the 148th FW will run scenarios and missions created by the WEG, which evaluates the fighter wing on their tactics, techniques and procedures from the ground up.

“They evaluate man, missile and machine,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Glen Jaffray, a flight commander with the 179th Fighter Squadron, a subordinate unit of the 148th FW. “They look at the entire process – the maintainers’ ability to load the munitions, the pilots’ ability to employ the munitions and the jets’ performance while firing the munitions.”

When tasked with a mission that calls for deadly force, but rarely requires it, training like what the WEG provides is invaluable.

“The training we receive here gives us confidence in our jets’ ability to perform,” Bowman said. “When we shoot the live ordnance, we know our weapons system performs as advertised. Without the live ordnance, it’s like a placebo effect.”

That’s an important advantage in a wing where nearly half of the pilots have never had the chance to fly a real-world alert mission.

While this deployment is an important step in the conversion to the new Block 50 F-16s, it’s not the first training the pilots and maintainers have completed since they received their first new jets in April 2010.

“The internal architecture of the Block 50 is completely different from the Block 25,” Bowman said. “It’s a significantly different mission and skill set.”

The wing’s pilots attended a month-long course at Luke AFB, Ariz., while the maintainers and avionics technicians had their own training to attend to become familiarized with the new jet.

The complete conversion process takes approximately two years. But for now, the 148th FW is focused on their mission here.

“We are very happy to be here. The WEG provides us full service support and completely absorbs us into their construct,” Bowman said. “They are very good at what they do.”
The WEG is happy to oblige.

"We're thrilled to have the 148th flying with us,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Barker, 53rd WEG deputy commander.

“When you take the camaraderie they bring to the fight and add in the confidence that comes from the rigorous weapons evaluations they're only able to do at Combat Archer (air-to-air) and Combat Hammer (air-to-ground), the result is increased combat effectiveness for their critical homeland defense mission or their next contingency deployment."

 

 

Related Articles
1st Lt. Jennifer Vanden Busch, the Joint Readiness Training Center Aid Station Rear operations officer, prepares a syringe June 13, 2024, during a training rotation for the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade Combat Team. She was among the medics, nurses and physicians from the Wisconsin National Guard and surrounding states who responded to a call for volunteers to staff the JRTC clinic.
Wisconsin Guard Medical Company Helps Set Up Clinic
By Staff Sgt. Kati Volkman, | July 12, 2024
FORT JOHNSON, La. - Walking into an empty medical clinic and getting it up and running in under three hours is no easy task, but a group of Soldiers — primarily from the Wisconsin National Guard’s 135th Medical Company — were...

Philippine Air Force pilots welcome U.S. Air Force pilots from the 199th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron following a successful inaugural landing during the Marine Aviation Support Activity 24, at Basa Air Base, Philippines, June 13, 2024. The 199th EFS comprises19th and 199th Fighter Squadrons known as the Hawaiian Raptors based out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Hawaiian Raptors Land at Basa Air Base in Philippines
By Master Sgt. Mysti Bicoy, | July 12, 2024
BASA AIR BASE, Philippines - The Hawaiian Raptors from the 199th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron landed at Basa Air Base, Philippines, marking a significant milestone in U.S.-Philippine military relations.This inaugural...

Vermont Army National Guard Soldiers supported Vermont Emergency Management Urban Search and Rescue Teams conducting health and welfare checks and evacuating people during flash flooding July 10-11, 2024, in Barre, Vermont. Before the storm, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott approved the activation of approximately 15 Soldiers and seven high-water vehicles to prepare for flash flooding.
Vermont National Guard Rescues Beryl Flood Victims
By Maj. J. Scott Detweiler, | July 11, 2024
COLCHESTER, Vt. - Vermont Army National Guard Soldiers worked with urban search and rescue teams to evacuate 19 people from locations in Barre, Northfield and Moretown experiencing flooding due to heavy rain caused by...