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Airmen have fun being 'bad guys'

Air Combat Command News


By Staff Sgt. Jerron Barnett 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (ACCNS) -- Amidst Las Vegas' bright lights and the surrounding mountain ranges, 58th and 60th fighter squadron pilots and maintainers acted as adversaries for the pilots at the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., recently.

The six-month class at the school is designed to train more than 160 pilots a year to be experts on weapons, weapons systems, weapons system integration and employment tactics, procedures and techniques.

Eglin members supported the school for the last two months. The 58th performed the adversary mission from Sept. 29 to Oct. 26. The 60th took over the mission on that date and its airmen and aircraft returned to Eglin Thanksgiving week, said Lt. Col. Tom Markwardt, 58th FS director of operations.

Capt. Stephen Cox, the project officer for the 60th FS trip, said the school basically instructs the instructors so they can go back to their home units and train other instructor pilots in their respective squadrons. Nearly 40 pilots from the 60th were flying enemy or 'red' aircraft against F-16 and F-15C pilots at Nellis.

"We're just out here supporting these guys," said Captain Cox. "We are simulating MiG 29s, Flankers, Floggers for them to fight."

The diligence of the more than 170 deployed Eglin maintenance and operations support airmen proved valuable to not only the Eglin pilots but also the school pilots.

"The F-15C division actually had to use some of our jets to complete their missions because their jets weren't holding up, so we've had outstanding maintainers throughout the entire deployment," Captain Cox said.

"We went here with just four aircraft and we ended up supporting ours and their flying operations the first week, and the school was pretty happy with the what the 60th FS did," said Lt. Col. Mark Lee, 60th FS commander.

Colonel Lee said flying red air missions gives his pilots something they don't really get in any other training scenario.

"I would say the biggest thing we get right now out of flying red air is the opportunity to get more than two or four jets out there at a time," he said. "We are getting out there with either six or eight on a daily basis."

Colonel Lee said any flying over Nellis' ranges is the best thing they (pilots) can possibly get - the land, the larger ship formations and doing it in a different location. The pilots also love flying dissimilar air combat training where pilots of different aircraft fly air-to-air combat missions against each other.

Both Colonel Lee and Captain Cox agree that having nearly the entire squadron at the school maximizes the training opportunities available.

"This is the first time I've seen a training deployment stateside with almost an entire squadron," said Captain Cox. "That's not normal. The reasons why are we supported two different divisions and we wanted to keep the jets there a little bit longer for the training."

"We also did it to eliminate the split between home-station and deployed operations so pilots and maintainers alike could concentrate here, and the guys back home can focus and not worry about generating sorties every day," said Colonel Lee.

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