The Maintenance and Operations Squadrons of the 162nd Wing competed in a Turkey Shoot held during March Unit Training Assembly. The 148th, 152nd, and 195th fighter squadrons competed to determine combat readiness and effectiveness.
A Turkey Shoot is a competition where Airmen face-off in simulated air mission scenarios to determine which squadron can score the most points in several different categories of combat.
Maintenance had to prepare four jets and one spare to meet specifications to include each aircraft being equipped with six BDU-33 bombs and 250 rounds of 20 mm ammunition. After the planes had returned from the air combat exercise, the maintenance teams were tested to see how quickly they could load the bombs.
“The responsibility of the crew chief is to oversee and make sure everything is completed on the jet and that everything is done correctly,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Cwiak of the 195th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “In order to do so, I use a checklist to ensure that if anything is missed, I can inform the Airmen that something needs to be fixed or completed correctly.”
Next the pilots are faced with the challenge of delivering a payload to a target, but must first fight other aircraft in the sky. The adversary aircraft are trying to prevent mission accomplishment. The jets record events such as radar locks, HUD, missile deployment and simulates taking down another jet.
“The difference between the Turkey Shoot and other forms of training is that the Turkey Shoot provides an aspect of unknown variables to the pilot which creates a very real combat scenario,” said Major Coatney, a pilot who played the role of an adversary in the competition.
The simulation measures the pilot’s ability to recognize various combat situations and documents whether or not the pilot takes the appropriate action. If requirements are not met, the pilot leaves the scenario in order to simulate a pilot death.
“The best way to describe the scenario is similar to cops and robbers,” said Coatney.
After a success against the adversaries, the pilots are tasked with accurately placing bombs on targets. All six BDU-33s are dropped testing the pilot’s skill and accuracy.
“I think it’s great to take the Wing away from the training mindset for a day and to put the Airmen in a simulated stressful combat competition,” said Coatney. “This exercise brings everyone together, measures their scores as a team across the spectrum of maintenance and Ops, and gets the entire Wing excited about the competition.”
After the competition is complete, and scores tallied, the losing fighter pilots are scheduled to wash an F-16 of the first place maintenance team. The losing maintenance team is scheduled to provide a “burger burn” for the winning fighter pilot team.
A Turkey Shoot amongst 162nd squadrons is likely to happen more often in the future whether the competition will continue annually is yet to be determined.