Salutes & Awards

December 21, 2012

Top Hats graduate 16 into combat Air Force

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Lt. Col. JON WHEELER
310th Fighter Squadron Commander


Basic F-16 Course class 12-DBG of the 310th Fighter Squadron is well on its way to being “Dressed to Kill” as combat ready F-16 pilots. When they graduate on Jan. 4, 2013, they will continue the legacy of 310th Fighter Squadron trained fighter pilots who have fought in every war from World War II to our current conflicts.

The graduation culminates nine months of intense training and hard work by the 310th FS and 310th Aircraft Maintenance Unit team, the 56th Training Squadron and countless support agencies that ensured these Top Hat students could fully focus on their mission. This team contributed to more than 869 sorties, 310 hours of academics and 704 simulators to mold fighter pilots for the combat Air Force.

This 16-pilot B-course began in May with one month of academics and simulators in the 56th TRS. This rigorous month laid the vital foundation of aircraft systems knowledge and study habits that will sustain them throughout their flying careers. Once they hit the flightline, they learned the basics of flying the F-16 before they transitioned to employing the Viper as a weapons system.

The tactical portion of their syllabus began with basic fighter maneuvers (one vs. one fights) and ultimately progressed to air combat tactics.
ACT entailed four F-16s fighting as many as six adversaries in a challenging real-world combat scenario.

During these intense months of training, the students continued receiving academics and flying simulator missions.

Just as they began to feel somewhat comfortable executing the air-to-air mission, the students transitioned to the air-to-surface phase where they began learning to fly in the low altitude environment, employ general purpose bombs and fire the F-16’s 20mm gun.

Next, they learned to employ the targeting pod and drop the same precision weapons they will soon drop in combat. Additionally, to ensure each pilot is ready for the rigors of the combat Air Force, each student demonstrated proficiency in all these tasks at night with the aid of night vision goggles.

Their planning, air-to-air and air-to-surface skills were finally tested in large-force exercises which pitted up to 16 F-16s versus as many as nine enemy aircraft and multiple simulated surface-to-air threats. These capstone missions ensured they are ready for their operational tours.

The next step for these young fighter pilots will be a few months of mission qualification training at their operational bases where they will work to become combat mission ready. Soon after MQT, most will be flying in combat to defend our great nation.

In all aspects of this incredibly demanding course, both in the air and on the ground, the students of 12-DBG excelled and proved themselves worthy to be called Air Force fighter pilots. In addition, their spouses left a positive and lasting impression on the 310th FS, Luke Air Force Base, and the local community.

Thanks to the Thunderbolts who helped make this day happen. All of Luke’s Airmen can be proud of the newest world-class fighter pilots that will graduate in two weeks.

To the Top Hats of 12-DBG … DTK!




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