Seven of America’s newest fighter pilots are ready to join the most lethal Combat Air Force on the planet. Class 13-DBC successfully completed the F-16 basic course and will celebrate this accomplishment today with family, friends, academic instructors and instructor pilots from the 62nd Fighter Squadron.
Class 13-DBC’s stay at Luke Air Force Base began with an intense academic phase that consisted of 236 hours of academic instruction. In addition to academics, students were evaluated during 42 simulator missions totaling 58 hours.
Following the initial phase, the students moved from the 56th Training Squadron to the 62nd FS to fulfill a lifelong dream — that of strapping a mighty Viper to their backs to slip the surly bonds. The joy of this accomplishment was short-lived as Spike instructors began pushing them to learn more and execute to a higher standard with every sortie.
Flying training began with the transition phase where they were taught to fly the F-16 in accordance with Air Force instructions, Federal Aviation Administration guidance and instrument procedures.
Initial sorties consisted of instructors flying in the rear cockpit until each student proved his readiness to fly solo.
Following the TR phase, the students 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. Once proficient in basic one 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.
Upon reaching basic proficiency in all facets of air-to-air F-16 employment, the students were challenged to master air-to-ground missions. Again, these started with basic sorties where they were instructed on the employment of unguided bombs on the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
The pilots were introduced to the munitions they will likely employ in combat soon after departing Luke to include laser-guided bombs and GPS-guided bombs. While most missions consisted of simulated employment, each student employed live bombs, LGBs and JDAMs.
Class 13-DBC progressed into the close-air support and surface attack tactics phase where they flew in forces of four to eight aircraft in scenarios that replicated combat missions.
Class 13-DBC had one final challenge — an exercise called Operation Begin Compliance. This exercise consisted of an AOR-representative air tasking order and mission planning process culminating in a complex force-on-force mission consisting of more than 20 friendly fighters simultaneously attacking targets defended by simulated surface-to-air missiles and adversaries from Luke and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma simulating hostile fighters.
While the effort and perseverance were theirs, class 13-DBC’s graduation wouldn’t have been possible without the joint effort by Team Luke. From the military personnel flight and travel management office to the comptroller, aerospace medicine, training and operations support squadrons, and many others, there isn’t a single individual at Luke who belongs to an organization that did not somehow contribute to their success.
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. Along with the maintainers, this graduation was made possible by the Spike instructor pilots who pushed, cajoled, motivated, challenged and sometimes kicked students in the rear.
The mental and physical stamina, and aptitude displayed throughout this demanding course will serve as the foundation upon which these pilots will rely as they go on to operational combat units throughout the Air Force.
Congratulations 13-DBC. Thank you Team Luke.
357 and counting … SPIKE!