The 56th Fighter Wing recently hosted four F/A-18E Super Hornets from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. The aircraft were brought in to provide joint air combat training for students undergoing initial F-16 qualification training.
Pilots from Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 14 planned, briefed and debriefed at the 62nd FS and flew in support of 10 student air combat maneuvering upgrade missions during their three-day trip. Their support freed up enough 62nd FS sorties to complete five additional student upgrade missions and two flight evaluations.
Training with Navy pilots was a rare but valuable chance for the 62nd FS instructor pilots to talk aircraft capabilities, compare fighter tactics and discuss student instruction. The students had an equally valuable opportunity to experience the way a fighter other than the F-16 Fighting Falcon flies and reacts.
“The Navy F-18s provided us with a unique and memorable opportunity to employ the Viper against a dissimilar adversary,” said 1st Lt. Sean Foote, 62nd FS B-course student pilot. “As students, the experience was invaluable, and the lessons won’t soon be forgotten.”
The air combat maneuvers training the Navy pilots supported was the first step in teaching the F-16 pilots how to fight with a teammate, their instructor. These missions are normally flown with the instructor, the student and an adversary – all three flying F-16s. Seeing two other F-16s in a visual engagement for the first time can sometimes confuse the student or delay a student’s weapons employment while they sort out which F-16 is their instructor and which F-16 is the enemy.
“Our students and instructors primarily train against F-16 adversaries,” said Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann, 62nd FS commander. “While adequate, solely training against an adversary with similar performance can lead to drawing air-to-air combat lessons that aren’t always valid. The chance to fight Hornets was an opportunity for our students and instructor pilots to execute our tactics against a jet with different strengths and weaknesses to either validate those tactics or show how to improve them.
“Stated in other terms, it was a chance to play a supersonic chess game with the unfamiliar kid from across town after months of playing only against your buddy next door,” Mann added.