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Aggressors add realism to William Tell

OVER TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., flies as an aggressor during Exercise William Tell 2004.  The pilot is assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

OVER TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., flies as an aggressor during Exercise William Tell 2004. The pilot is assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- Russian on your tail, Russian on your wingman, and you have got only one missile remaining. What should you do?

You should be thankful they are just flying out of Nevada to give you a taste of worldwide flying tactics, that is what.

Pilots of the 64th Aggressor Squadron out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., are flying profiles against the five competing teams at William Tell 2004 simulating enemy air-to-air tactics for the competition.

This is the first year the squadron has participated in William Tell, and Lt. Col. Paul Huffman said this might be a future trend.

“The aggressors are charged to be the professional adversaries,” said the squadron’s commander. “We study all potential threat tactics, sending pilots to different (countries) around the world to keep updated on tactical information worldwide.”

During American military exercises, “blue” refers to allied forces, and “red” refers to enemy forces. Red forces during standard training are often simulated, but in larger exercises and weapons meets, such as William Tell and Red Flag, the 64th AGS pilots add professional reality to the flight.

“The aggressors always provide realistic enemy tactics,” said Capt. Dan Arkema, a pilot on the U.S. Air Force in Europe team. “It’s always challenging and really makes you bring out your A-game.”

Colonel Huffman explained how the pilots work closely with intelligence units worldwide to stay abreast on information like foreign pilots’ flying hours and basic flight standards in tactics and strategy.

“My main purpose is to go out and show the Air Force what an adversary would do, only I’m doing it through an F-16 [Fighting Falcon],” said Capt. Tyrone Douglas, a pilot who has been with the squadron for five months. “I’m making sure I’m replicating the threat I’m supposed to, giving the blue team a clean example of foreign tactics.”

“All of our pilots and maintainers are highly experienced -- many of them are instructors,” Colonel Huffman said. “We’re able to hand pick those who apply to become an aggressor.”

Having flown missions during William Tell 2004, Colonel Huffman and his pilots work hard to maintain their foreign tactical mind-set for each team they fly against.

“We want to be consistent and give (competitors) the same simulation for each and every team,” he said.

Colonel Huffman said that the aggressors are providing the competitors with scenarios that are well developed in tactics and threats. They avoid being too hard or too easy, and they give the blue teams “a solvable, but challenging problem.”

“It’s a great opportunity to fly up against red-style pilots,” said Capt. Chad Spellman, of the Air Education and Training Command team. “Being exclusively an air-to-air exercise, it’s a great chance for us to hone our air-to-air tactical skills.”

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