TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Airmen with the 3rd Wing and F-22 Raptors from the 525th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, joined Raptors from Tyndall to train for Checkered Flag 18-1 and Combat Archer 17-03 from Nov. 6 through 17.
The wing brought 15 F-22 Raptors and more than 200 Airmen to Checkered Flag and Combat Archer.
“Checkered Flag gives the opportunity to utilize the airspace over the Gulf, where we can execute our mission with limited restrictions and we can put a large quantity of jets in the air,” said Capt. Anthony Hill, 525th FS F-22 pilot.
Flying over land has more restrictions, but the Gulf provides a more open environment for more effective and realistic training, Hill said.
The 3rd Wing’s mission is to provide air dominance, global mobility, and command and control for combatant commanders. Checkered Flag allows members of the wing to train in a high-speed environment.
Checkered Flag 18-1 is focused on high quality air superiority training, producing high-end readiness.
During the exercise, more than 10 different aircraft platforms flew simulated battles over the Gulf. Each mission flown provides experience and knowledge to build a more lethal Air Force.
“When we train at home station, there are limited assets, so we train our specific mission set without integrating,” Hill said. “When we come here, we can incorporate multiple platforms and their capabilities so we can learn how to best synchronize with multiple aircraft.”
While the 525th FS was at Tyndall, they also went through the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group’s Weapons System Evaluation Program, which allowed pilots for fire live missiles and test their capabilities.
“We employ simulated missiles all the time, but you can’t actually gain an appreciation for it until you hit the [fire] button and see and feel the missile fly off the jet, it is a great experience for all pilots to have,” Hill said.
According to its fact sheet, the F-22 Raptor brings unmatched air dominance to checkered flag through its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability.
“Air superiority is our main piece of the mission. We can integrate the entire battlespace together, and distribute that information to other platforms,” Hill said. “Some platforms’ radar are starting to become slightly outdated against current threats, we have the ability to provide them the situational awareness and enhance their capabilities.
“They make us more survivable, and we make them more lethal by integrating,” he added.
Fifth-generation aircraft such as those participating in Checkered Flag are critical to penetrating the adversaries existing air defenses. This exercise provides Airmen the opportunity to hone their skills on airframes essential to maintaining the U.S. Air Force’s air superiority currently and into the future.