Edwards AFB answers call for assistance in high-priority Navy, RAN test

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Navy photograph by PO3 Dakota Fink

An Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., F-16 sits at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif., along with an AQM-37D supersonic target, Nov. 28, 2018. Two F-16s and maintenance Airmen from Edwards assisted the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy with a test of a RAN ship’s combat system late last year.

Late last year, the Air Force Test Center and Team Edwards stepped up to help the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy with a critical test off the coast of California.

The Navy was assisting the RAN in testing the combat system on their newest guided missile destroyer, the HMAS Hobart (DDG 39). Due to a conflict in scheduling, the navies were left in need of F-16 Fighting Falcons that were certified to fire AQM-37D supersonic targets.

Responding to the request for assistance, Edwards AFB sent two of its F-16s, a KC-135 Stratotanker and 412th Maintenance Squadron Airmen to Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif., during the last week of November. The maintainers teamed up with members of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s Threat/Targets Department at Point Mugu to inspect and load the AQM-37Ds on to the Edwards F-16s.

As a result, the HMAS Hobart was able complete its tests over the Point Mugu Sea Range without delaying her return to Australia with unfinished business.

Airman 1st Class Cierra-Mae Hanson, 412th Maintenance Group, inspects an AQM-37D supersonic target before it is loaded on to an Edwards Air Force Base F-16 at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif., Nov. 28, 2018. Two F-16s, a KC-135 Stratotanker, and maintenance Airmen from Edwards assisted the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy with a test of a Royal Australian Navy ship’s combat system late last year.

“Edwards AFB was instrumental in the successful completion of critical International Test and Evaluation events that were being conducted by the U.S. Navy (Program Executive Offices Integrated Warfare Systems) and the Royal Australian Navy, by providing two F-16 aircraft and a KC-135 tanker on short notice,” according to a statement by the U.S. Navy PEO IWS. “Despite the last minute request that occurred just days prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday, personnel and aircraft from Edwards AFB supported the launching of two AQM-37D supersonic targets, which enabled the successful completion of the planned events. The RAN expressed their gratitude for the superior performance and cooperation of the Edwards AFB team. With the successful completion of the final events occurring Dec. 1, 2018, DDG 39 pulled into her home port in Australia just prior to the Christmas holiday.”

According to the RAN, the HMAS Hobart III is the country’s first Aegis Air Warfare destroyer, which was commissioned in September 2017. Hobart’s state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, including the phased array radar and missile systems, provides an advanced air defense system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at long ranges.

Airmen from the 412th Maintenance Group are assisted by members of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s Threat/Targets Department at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif. They are loading an AQM-37D supersonic target, Nov. 28, 2018. Two F-16s, a KC-135 Stratotanker, and maintenance Airmen from Edwards assisted the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy with a test of a Royal Australian Navy ship’s combat system late last year. The Point Mugu team consisted of Lee Cobb, Tad Miller and Jeremy Gibson.

The participating F-16 pilots were Maj. Christopher Taylor of the 416th Flight Test Squadron and Maj. Jonathan Bearce, 461st Flight Test Squadron.

The 412th MXG team consisted of Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Rowe, Master Sgt. Jonathan Young, Tech. Sgt. Jose Arispe, Staff Sgt. Ernesto Sierra and Airman 1st Class Cierra-Mae Hanson.

Editor’s note: Kimberly E. Brown, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Public Affairs, and BU3 Dakota Fink contributed to this article
 

Master Sgt. Jonathan Young (left) and Tech. Sgt. Jose Aripe, 412th Maintenance Group, inspect an AQM-37D supersonic target after it was loaded on to an Edwards Air Force Base F-16, Nov. 28, 2018. Two F-16s, a KC-135 Stratotanker, and maintenance Airmen from Edwards assisted the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy with a test of a RAN ship’s combat system late last year.