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    Checkered Flag 17-1: pilot and aircraft integration

    Checkered Flag 17-1: pilot and aircraft integration

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Alex Echols | A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho,...... read more read more

    TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES

    12.20.2016

    Story by Staff Sgt. Alex Echols 

    325th Fighter Wing

    Air Force aviators from across the country converged here for Checkered Flag 17-1, a large-scale, aerial total-force exercise. The high-end, multi-airframe integration exercise ran from Dec. 5-16.

    Fourth- and fifth-generation fighter pilots worked together to complete missions involving multiple airframes including F-35A Lightning II, F-22 Raptors, F-16CM Fighting Falcons, F-15E Strike Eagles, HH-60G Pave Hawks and an E-3 Sentry in preparation for the future of the Air Force’s combat capabilities.

    “The ability to rapidly bring a force together from various locations is representative of what we would do in combat,” said Col. Randy Cason, Checkered Flag 17-1 Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “We would quickly bring units to one location, have introductions, form a team, and in a matter of hours, begin flying missions. This is highly representative of an extreme strategic capability that we bring to the combatant commanders and to the United States of America.”

    Over the two-week exercise, participating units alternated acting as “Red Air,” or opponent aircraft, replicating known adversarial tactics and capabilities to train the AEW pilots in the most realistic combat situations possible.

    The 20th Fighter Wing from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and the 336th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, brought 16 F-16CMs and 16 F-15Es, respectively, to the fight enabling full fourth- and fifth-generation integration training.

    “One of the most beneficial aspects of Checkered Flag is that we have the ability to integrate on a daily basis with fifth- and four-generation assets,” said Capt. Brian Leber, 55th Fighter Squadron, Shaw AFB, F-16 pilot. “Back at Shaw, we have F-16s, so we don’t have that opportunity. Here every mission that we fly is a mix of assets. We brief, fly and debrief with [each other] and figure out how we can all work together to achieve the overall objective.”

    With the F-35 recently reaching initial operating capability and the relative newness of the F-22, integration between legacy aircraft and these newer fighters creates a host of challenges and opportunities. During exercises such as Checkered Flag, pilots work together to overcome these issues and fully capitalize on fifth-generation capabilities.

    “For us, it’s very important that we come here and integrate with all of the assets that are playing here so that they understand the capabilities and limitations of our platform, [the F-35], so that we can better interweave those to create the most lethal and survivable force,” said Lt. Col. Brad Bashore, 58th Fighter Squadron commander, Eglin AFB. “I think it’s important to understand that fifth-generation [aircraft] takes [the Air Force’s] lethal fighting force to the next level. With fourth- and fifth-generation executing together creates a complimentary relationship. We make them better, and they make us better.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.20.2016
    Date Posted: 12.20.2016 16:57
    Story ID: 218305
    Location: TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA, US

    Web Views: 257
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN