TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Fighter generation squadrons across the U.S. Air Force are fostering Cross Utilization Training and the Multi-Capable Airmen concept as the service branch continues towards operationalizing Agile Combat Employment to ensure a sustainable force of Airmen and airpower at any time and any place.
The 1st Fighter Wing out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, brought several Multi-Capable Airmen teams to participate in the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group’s Weapons System Evaluation Program-East 23.02, Oct. 31 – Nov. 9, 2022.
The squadron was set to accomplish what are referred to as the four R’s and they succeeded during this WSEP with teams consisting of only five Airmen, a task that would normally take up to ten.
“The whole program was developed to ensure MCA teams can recover, refuel, reload and relaunch an aircraft in a contingency location,” stated Capt. Benjamin Huffman, 94th Fighter Generation Squadron director of operations.
The team consists of a crew chief, an avionics specialist, a weapons specialist, a munitions specialist and an aerospace ground equipment specialist. Each individual is specifically trained in their position as well as trained on one another’s specialty to ensure supporting aircraft is successful when downrange.
“[The program] is important because crew chiefs deal with a lot more of the mechanical aspects of the jet, whereas I deal with a lot more of the technology and electronics side of it,” said Tech. Sgt. Jazmine Harrison, 94th FGS avionics specialist expediter and acting F-22 Raptor crew chief. “It’s nice to be able to put what I do with what they do and see the bigger picture instead of just being caught up in the [avionics] world. I get a full picture of how everything works together and how my systems affect theirs.”
This particular team of Airmen were able to recover and reload a live AIM-120 missile as well as refuel and relaunch an F-22 which then successfully fired the missile during an air-to-air combat training sortie for the first time during the 23.02 iteration of WSEP-East. WSEP is a two-week evaluation exercise designed to test a squadron’s capabilities to conduct live-fire weapons systems during air-to-air combat training.
“For me, it was really exciting to be a part of the first [MCA] team to complete a mission for the 94th Fighter Squadron,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy Clark, 1st Munitions Squadron mobility supervisor and acting weapons load crew member. “The fact that we were successfully able to hang the missile and then fire it… and it worked.”
In conjunction with Checkered Flag 23-1, the Department of Defense’s largest air-to-air combat exercise, Tyndall Air Force Base provided the perfect opportunity to employ the 94th FGS’s first MCA team, keeping Agile Combat Employment in mind.
“With ACE, instead of operating out of just a single main operating base, we are capable of operating out of multiple locations with a smaller number of aircraft and thus less people and less equipment,” explained Huffman. “Participating in these exercises provides real-world conditions that we don’t get at home station; there are different things going on, different airframes taxiing by, and the fact that they were able to load a live missile that was shot… that’s the best way to verify if it was loaded correctly.”