Airmen, Sailors Complete Interservice Air Combat Training
By Master Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea, Dec. 21, 2007 Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing “Wolf Pack” returned here yesterday after completing an 11-day air combat training exercise with sailors flying F-18 Hornets at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan.
Forty airmen from 8th Operations Group, 8th Maintenance Group and 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron, along with five F-16s, deployed to the naval installation Dec. 9 to 20.
“Air combat training between the services exposes both Navy and Air Force pilots to different air-to-air tactics and aircraft capabilities,” said Air Force Maj. Michael Boger, 8th Operations Support Squadron director of operations and the training exercise commander. “This type of training is critically important to maintain not only Wolf Pack pilots and maintainers, but Navy fighter pilots’ combat skills by engaging in realistic air-to-air combat training against different types of high-performance fighter aircraft.”
During the exercise, pilots received training on different basic fighter maneuvers as the two different airframes went head to head within each training scenario. Training was stepped up during differential air combat tactics when four F-16 pilots flew against up to six F-18 pilots. In another scenario, a combined flight of two Navy and two Air Force jets flew against another combined flight of two Navy and two Air Force jets.
Boger said these scenarios, along with flying from Japan, helped trained Wolf Pack aviators to varied aerial situations allowing them to learn adaptation and flexibility. He added that many of the maneuvers used during training at Kunsan against Wolf Pack F-16’s were validated against the Hornets with slightly different cues for accomplishing certain maneuvers.
Pilots flying the missions were not the only airmen who received valuable training during the exercise.
Maintenance airmen also received good training during launch, recovery and any maintenance issues that arose during the exercise, Air Force Capt. Katie Jett, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, said.
She said deploying to a Navy base compared to an Air Force base means there is different equipment to service and troubleshoot. Those differences didn’t affect maintenance, but will be beneficial for future training exercises, she said.
“Since we’ve experienced what a naval base has to offer, we’ll be able to better coordinate prior to arrival what we can count on the Navy to provide and also what exactly to bring for future training exercises to Japan,” she said. “This has been a beneficial training exercise for both operators and the maintainers that would be great to have as a reoccurring event for the 35th as a unit.”
Another unit that benefited from the training was Carrier Air Wing 5, based at Atsugi. The unit, with its six squadrons and five different airframes, easily was able to integrate and train with the 35th Fighter Squadron pilots through the joint air-to-air training.
“Joint air-to-air combat training is extremely important in today’s military as joint operations become more and more essential,” Navy Lt. Cdr. Jason Lane, assistant operations officer for Carrier Air Wing 5, said. “In a dynamic air-to-air training environment, face-to-face planning, briefing and debriefing are crucial to the training.”
(Air Force Master Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan is assigned to 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.)