Welcome to today's Air Education and Training Command News Service.
Today's stories include:
Operational Raptors fire first missiles in WSEP
2nd Lt. Will Powell
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AETCNS) -- For the second time in less
than four months, the 27th Fighter Squadron made history when two F-22A
Raptor pilots fired air-to-air missiles Feb. 14 during the jet's first
official air-to-air weapons system evaluation since becoming operational
two months ago.
Nearly 40 Airmen from the Langley AFB, Va., squadron participated in the
Air Force's air-to-air weapon system evaluation program, known as Combat
Archer, at the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron here.
"It's not every day that you can go out and shoot a live missile," said
Lt. Col. Raymond O'Mara, 83rd FWS commander. "WSEP is a great training
opportunity for pilots to see how the whole system works, and it
instills confidence in them that the weapon system is going to work when
they need it."
Air Force fighter pilots fire more than 300 missiles each year over the
Gulf Range to evaluate the total air-to-air weapons system including
aircraft, weapon delivery system, weapon, aircrew, support equipment,
technical data, and maintenance actions.
"Our basic charter is to make sure our Airmen are effective on their
first combat mission and every combat mission thereafter," said Col.
Mike Winslow, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group commander. "That's the whole
reason this program exists."
The Raptor has been tested many times before, but this time was
different, Colonel O'Mara said.
"The Raptor has gone through a long period of development tests and
operation tests where they've established what the airplane is capable
of," he said. "But this is the first time we've had operational pilots
flying declared operational aircraft with fielded operational weapons
and actually employing them the way we would in combat."
WSEP deployments normally last two weeks, but the Langley Raptors were
here for only a one-day evaluation to prepare for an upcoming,
full-scale deployment in the summer.
"Today was just an investigative shot," said Lt. Col. Jim Hecker, 27th
FS commander, who shot the first missile, an AIM-120 advanced
medium-range air-to-air missile. "Since we carry our weapons internally,
we were checking to see if the missile telemetry can be picked up
outside of the aircraft."
Being able to read the missile's telemetry is important. It's the only
way the 83rd FWS can evaluate how well a weapon works.
The pilots planned to shoot sub-scale drones with only four missiles --
two AIM-120s and two AIM-9 Sidewinders -- to discover and fix any
internal carriage problems before the squadron returns this summer.
Unfortunately, a fuel pump problem forced one jet to remain on the
ground and another Raptor ran out of safe airspace before being able to
Even though only two missiles were fired, the day was still a success,
Colonel O'Mara said.
"We were able to read the missile's telemetry in flight and both missile
shots were successful," he said. "I would have preferred to have all
four fired, but this is a good start that will provide plenty of work
and data for us to look at."
The day was also significant because no operational Raptor pilot had
ever fired a missile from a Raptor before and some pilots have never
fired a missile from any aircraft before, Colonel Hecker said.
"It's great to practice dropping bombs and shooting missiles in a
simulator, but actually having a weapon leave the jet just solidifies
all your training and what you're learning," said Capt. Chris Batterton,
who fired the AIM-9. "It was awesome to see the missile shoot off from
the side of the jet like a bottle rocket and then shack the drone. It
was a very successful shot."
Colonel O'Mara said he looks forward to adding the Raptor to the WSEP's
regular lineup of participants, which currently includes every single
air-to-air aircraft in the Air Force's inventory.
"I expect the Raptor to become an integral part of WSEP and I'm looking
forward to the full-up deployment this summer," he said.
Lucky? I'm at Kunsan right now.
Awesome photos. Awesome weapons platform.
Yeah, the KOR gives that one away.
Just a chance to be in the same room with one of those...