Every student pilot taking the B Course must take part in an ultimate test of everything they learned. It’s not a video game and it’s not a movie. This is real life and it’s called the Large Force Exercise.
“The LFE is a test for pilots to utilize all they have learned in the B Course,” said Capt. Grant Hillman, 310th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot. “The pilots use all their skills in the largest exercise of their course that reaches out to multiple squadrons for help in making the LFE happen.”
Many squadrons come together to support the LFE from Luke Air Force Base and from nearby bases including Davis-Monthan AFB. The support they offer includes manpower and aircraft.
The exercise was designed to combine various elements with a sense of realism to test the skills of the students.
“An LFE has many challenges for pilots to overcome,” Hillman said. “It has many elements like simulated enemy aircraft, ground targets, and even anti-air ground units that simulate firing surface-to-air munitions. For many pilots, the LFE is a difficult test on being a good wingman.”
The LFE is not the last or most pivotal part of a student’s training, but it is the largest. First Lt. Joseph Valdez, 310th FS student, recently completed his LFE.
“It was a lot of fun and really challenging,” Valdez said. “All the skills I learned and the skills we use with our fellow wingmen are put to the test.”
One of the greatest challenges of the exercise is facing the unknown.
“When heading out for the LFE, the biggest challenge is not knowing what challenges there will be,” Valdez said. “The unknown variables to the LFE create a more realistic feel to the exercise.”
Valdez said he had a better perspective on the training after finishing the LFE flight.
“Having done this difficult exercise, I feel that I’ll look at pre-mission planning and mission execution more seriously,” he said. “I feel I can better myself through the experience of the LFE for my future flights.
“For future B Course students going through the LFE, just remember to use the basic skills you learned. Know that the LFE is very important and do everything to the same degree of excellence you’ve had throughout your training,” he said.