LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Virginia –
Two weeks in Florida led to two more historic steps for Langley ... but if this sounds like just another Raptor story, keep reading.
Twelve F-15 Eagles from the 71st Fighter Squadron and four F-22A Raptors from the 27th FS were flown to Tyndall Air Force Base Feb. 4-17 to tackle various missile tests at Combat Archer, the Air Force’s live-fire, air-to-air evaluation program.
Though recently they have played second-fiddle to the excitement surround the up-and-coming F-22A, the Eagle pilots left the biggest mark on this round of training by firing the longest kill ever recorded in Weapons Systems Evaluation Program history.
Capt. Charles Glasscock, 71st FS pilot, set the record while firing the new AIM-9X Sidewinder missile during a test specifically designed to assess the missile’s maximum range.
“They really didn’t think it could go that far, and I think it surprised everyone, especially the drone operators,” said Capt. Glasscock with a laugh. “But it was definitely an awesome feeling watching the missile impact the target.”
The weapons fired varied between AMRAMM-120s, AIM-7s and AIM9-Xs. In all, the 71st FS was able to fire 22 missiles for training.
“The live-fire WSEP training gives the pilots, maintainers and the entire system an opportunity to feel what it’s really like to load, fly and shoot a live weapon,” said Lt. Col. Jon Holdaway, 71st FS director of operations.
“It’s important to make sure our people are ready to carry out their mission, and this training makes that possible.”
This unique opportunity to fire live missiles offers the squadron an environment to gain confidence in, and experience with, their weapons systems. But it also provides the Air Force the opportunity to safely investigate the recorded limits of current missiles, and allows pilots and WSEP trainers to test the communication between the weapons and weapons systems.
That’s why the F-22As were in town.
“We needed to be able to test the telemetry packages for the weapons, since ours are carried internally, and we weren’t sure how it would all work,” said Lt. Col. James Hecker, 27th FS commander.
In so doing, the 27th FS made their mark on the training -- they fired the first two live missiles from the operational F-22A.
“We met our objectives, and the WSEP guys are still crunching the data to make sure the missile telemetry will fall into the right parameters,” said Colonel Hecker. “The information and experience we gathered will help us to better prepare for real scenarios ... both on the maintenance and flying side.”
Feedback from the commanders of both squadrons was entirely positive.
“I was really proud of all the guys, every person on the team performed at their best,” said Colonel Holdaway.
Colonel Hecker echoed his sentiments; “Maintenance was outstanding -- everyone did an outstanding job during this trip.”