America’s newest fighter pilots are ready to join the most lethal Combat Air Force on the planet. Seven officers from class 12-BBC successfully completed the F-16 basic course and will celebrate this momentous accomplishment today with their families, friends, academic instructors and instructor pilots from the 62nd Fighter Squadron.
Class 12-BB’s stay at Luke began approximately nine months ago with an intense academic phase that consisted of 236 hours of academic instruction punctuated by evaluations in the form of 10 exams. In addition to the academics, these students were evaluated during 42 simulator missions at Luke Air Force Base totaling 58 hours. Though concentrated in the initial phase of the course, much of the academic instruction and simulator training was interspersed with flying training during the second phase of the B-Course.
Following the initial phase, these seven pilots moved from the 56th Training Squadron to the 62nd Fighter Squadron to fulfill a lifelong dream … strapping a mighty Viper to their backs to slip the surly bonds. The joy of this accomplishment was surely short lived as Spike instructors immediately began pushing them to their limits to learn more and execute to a higher standard with every sortie. The proverbial “firehose” became a way of life.
Flying training started with the transition phase where the class was taught to fly the F-16 in accordance with Air Force Instructions, Federal Aviation Administration guidance and instrument procedures. The initial sorties consisted of instructors flying in the rear cockpit until each student proved ready to fly the F-16 solo.
Following the TR phase, the student pilots were introduced to one vs. one dog fighting to learn dynamic maneuvering under high G-force while reacting to an adversary maneuvering in close proximity to their aircraft. Once proficient in basic 1one vs. one, they progressed to two vs. one, two vs. two and eventually four vs. four air combat tactics missions where they executed real world tactics against adversaries with the fights starting with more than a 50-mile separation between the blue and red forces.
Upon reaching basic proficiency in all facets of air-to-air F-16 employment, they were immediately challenged with a completely new skill set to master with the progression to air-to-ground missions. Again, these started with basic sorties where they were instructed on the employment of unguided bombs on the various ranges that make up the Barry M. Goldwater Range complex. Then the young pilots were introduced to the munitions they will soon employ in combat to include laser guided bombs and GPS guided bombs. While most missions consisted of simulated employment, each student had the opportunity to employ live bombs, actual LGBs and joint direct attack munitions.
Upon demonstrating proficiency with weapons employment, 12-BBC progressed into the close air support and then surface attack tactics phase where they flew in forces of four to eight aircraft in missionized scenarios that most closely replicated the types of missions they may be called on to execute someday in combat.
After completing all these phases, class 12-BBC was presented one final challenge in the form of a graduation exercise called Operation BEGIN COMPLIANCE. This exercise consisted of an AOR-representative Air Tasking Order and mission planning process that culminated in a complex force on force mission consisting of more than 20 blue fighters simultaneously attacking targets defended by simulated surface-to-air missiles and actual adversaries from Luke and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma simulating hostile fighters. In total, members of class 12-BBC completed 62 syllabus directed missions totaling approximately 100 flight hours in the F-16.
While the effort and perseverance required to graduate was all theirs, class 12-BBC’s graduation would not have been possible without the tremendous joint effort put forth by Team Luke. From the military personnel flight, transportation management office, and the comptroller squadron to the aerospace medicine squadron, training squadron, operations support squadron and many more, there isn’t a single individual at Luke who belongs to an organization that did not somehow contribute to the successful addition of seven motivated new fighter pilots to the Air Force. In particular, the men and women of the Spike aircraft maintenance unit moved mountains to keep the oldest F-16s in the Air Force flying and able to provide superior training to these young aviators. Along with the amazing maintainers, BBC’s graduation was made possible thanks to the superb instruction provided by the pilots who pushed, cajoled, motivated, challenged and sometimes kicked in the rear Spike instructor pilots.
The seven young men of class 12-BBC endured a rigorous selection process that began at their commissioning sources, continued through undergraduate pilot training and introduction to fighter fundamentals, and culminated with graduation from the B-Course and the right to call themselves fighter pilots. The mental and physical stamina and aptitude displayed throughout this demanding course will serve as the foundation on which these pilots will rely as they go on to operational combat units throughout the Air Force. While their training at Luke is complete, they will have many more mountains to climb and qualifications to earn. Many of these new fighter pilots will fly combat missions in less time than it took to complete the Basic Course. Congratulations 12- BBC. Thank you Team Luke. 357 AND COUNTING …
For a complete list of the seven graduates, please refer to this week’s PDF file.