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    81st RCS controls first mission in wake of Hurricane Michael



    Story by Senior Airman Isaiah Soliz 

    325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    Hurricane Michael made landfall over a month ago leaving a path of destruction in its wake. As the 325th Fighter Wing continues to recover and reconstitute, squadrons across the hurricane-ravaged installation are beginning to bring missions and systems back online.

    The 81st Range Control Squadron, also known as WET STONE, recently participated in its first live mission with the 58th Fighter Squadron from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and in doing so continued one of its primary duties over the Tyndall Range Complex of providing command and control for air-to-air and air-to-ground live fire missions.

    The 81st is designed primarily to support the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group’s Combat Archer and Combat Hammer mission sets, said Master Sgt. Christopher Cummings, 81st RCS superintendent. Getting the mission back online is important because the 53rd WEG was identified early-on as one of the missions remaining at Tyndall. All operations for that mission operate out of the 81st RCS, both drone operations and command and control.

    “This is the first live exercise that we have done,” said Airman 1st Class Mitchell Rivera, 81st RCS live technician. “We had two versus four aircraft fighting against each other, while we provided command control, allowing us to hone and reshape our skills.”

    The 81st RCS is Air Combat Command’s only radar-control squadron tasked to support live-fire operational testing and evaluation of air-to-air weapons systems against a myriad of threat-representative targets.

    “Today we saw the WETSTONE crew, an entire enlisted crew, conduct continuation training to regain some currencies and to conduct some evaluations,” Cummings said. “Typically, battle management command and control crews across the [combat Air Force] are broken up into enlisted operators and officer operators, two entirely different career fields but interwoven to work together.”

    Facing a manpower shortage the 81st RCS used training and certifications and amplified manpower efficiency by utilizing expertise at the senior enlisted levels, Cummings added. Doing so, now allows senior NCOs to become mission directors and junior Airmen to hold qualifications for more than one position during operations.

    The facility housing the 81st RCS sustained major damage due to Hurricane Michael. Cummings and his leadership believe it is because of the 325th Fighter Wing leadership and several organizations in the local area that the squadron has had unwavering support during the rebuilding process.

    “The squadron's Airmen and in conjunction with the 53rd WEG’s PAE contractors, government service civilians and coordination with various 325th FW, Task Force Phoenix, Task Force HARP and 1st Air Force have done an exceptional job bringing the 81st RCS capabilities back on line to be able to execute live air-air training and weapons evaluation missions,” said Lt. Col. Steve Wyatt, 81st RCS director of operations. “Not only has this been a monumental effort by all those involved and is a testament to the Air Force’s ability to reconstitute a tactical unit, but this is also an excellent example of how an empowered squadron is able to adjust policy to meet mission needs.”



    Date Taken: 11.21.2018
    Date Posted: 11.26.2018 12:59
    Story ID: 301203

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