Mountain Home practices WEG archery

  • Published
  • By Crissy Cuttita
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Two fighter squadrons from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, engaged in dissimilar aircraft combat training and fired live weapons while on temporary duty at Tyndall last week.

They set up operations in the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, an Air Combat Command tenant unit located at Tyndall. The F-15s of the 390th FS and F-16s of the 389th FS were launched and recovered on the runway by their aircraft maintenance units on temporary duty here.

"Combat Archer is the only cradle-to-grave fighter weapon system evaluation - from human to machine to weapon," said Lt. Col. Terry Scott, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron commander. Approximately every two weeks, a variety of units from the Department of Defense and other nations, station themselves at the squadron to test the weapons systems on their aircraft.

"Our primary purpose is to evaluate the weapons effectiveness of our live missiles, the AIM-9 and AIM-120," said Maj. Marco Parzych, 389th Fighter Squadron flight commander.

The squadron also completed a Combat Banner mission in which a banner is tied with a 2,000-foot cable to a Learjet allowing pilots to evaluate their shooting accuracy while testing the aircraft's gun systems. After completing the mission, the banner is evaluated by a team of 83rd FWS analysts upon recovery of the aircraft.

"No other place in the Air Force provides this training and support," said Master Sgt. Mike Husava, 83rd FWS liaison flight chief of a logistical team that provides all pre- and post-deployment planning.

"From lieutenant to major ranks, our F-16 pilots were able to shoot in air-to-air operations," said Major Parzych. "It was a first time experience for many."

The ability to experience the jet at 5,000 feet altitude was also unique for the Mountain Home-based pilots. Pilots can fly at lower altitudes over the water, and lucky for them Tyndall is surrounded by it.

"The jet performs better at that altitude, and we can also experience what it can do," said Major Parzych. On the ground, maintainers supporting the fighter squadrons loaded live missiles.

"Back at Mountain Home they only get simulated experiences, so it was a big deal for them," said Major Parzych. "They get fired up to see the end result of what they do. Here they see the jets come back with the missiles gone. It's rewarding for them."

Maintainers from the 83rd FWS monitor all weapons loading so all safety procedures and practices are followed.

"Visiting units benefit from the 83rd FWS maintenance personnel since they do not get the daily experience of loading and unloading weapons at their home stations," said Sergeant Husava.

The Combat Archer motto, "Preparing for war by testing in peace," fits their unique mission. "We are the Department of Defense's largest fighter weapon system sustainment evaluation program," said Colonel Scott.