Pilots assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., hosted U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps and took to the skies to duel each other, Dec. 1.
The pilots came together for basic fighter maneuver training to strengthen the strategic capabilities needed to win air-to-air battles.
“Modern tactics are designed to destroy an airborne enemy before they ever see your formation,” said Capt. Dane Lannon, 55th Fighter Squadron activity security manager. “However, in the case that an aircraft makes it to the visual arena, known as ‘the merge,’ our pilots are extensively trained in the art of one-on-one aerial combat.”
These trainings, which are scheduled to occur annually, give pilots the opportunity to test their skills against different airframes.
“Our pilots need to know how to maneuver their airplane in relation to an adversary who is trying to kill them,” said Lannon. “It’s important to Shaw and other bases because it’s the building block for follow-on fighter tactics.”
The participating aircraft consisted of F-16CM Fighting Falcons assigned to Shaw; F-22 Raptors assigned to Tyndall AFB, Fla., F-18 Hornets assigned to Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.; AV-8B Harriers assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.; and T-38C Talons assigned to Columbus AFB, Miss.
“There are jets from across the east coast flying in to meet in an airspace to fight each other,” said Capt. August Derosa, an instructor pilot from the 49th Fighter Training Squadron at Columbus AFB. “It gives the aircraft the opportunity to fight other aircraft as opposed to fighting their own.”
These trainings allow pilots to see the advantages and disadvantages of fighting different airframes and hone their skills to win the next fight.
“It provides you with a wartime environment mentality for when you are going against someone who doesn’t fly your aircraft,” said Derosa. “You must study your adversary and see where you are best able to fight them and be able to act on the spot.”
The 49th FTS rarely has opportunities to participate in these trainings, so to come out and train against other services is a great experience, said Derosa.
Upon the conclusion of BFM, visiting pilots returned to their respective installations with more knowledge on how to adapt and overcome “foreign” airframes, increasing their mission effectiveness and response times when battling enemy combatants.