Tyndall AFB holds joint Weapons System Evaluation Program
By Senior Airman Jacob Dastas, 325th Fighter Wing
/ Published December 27, 2020
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) --
The 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron hosted Weapon System Evaluation Program East 21.03 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Dec. 7-18.
WSEPs are held to evaluate air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons systems on behalf of Air Combat Command.
The 43rd Fighter Squadron from Tyndall AFB and the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadrons 11, 34, 81, and 211 with Carrier Air Wing One out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va. participated in this evaluation.
“Pre-deployment joint training is crucial to success for the future,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Kellner, 83rd Fighter Squadron FA-18 program manager. “The (Navy and Air Force) joint team help each other meet the nation’s tasking and maintain a sharp edge on their combat skills while forward deployed.”
Both CVW-1 and the 43rd FS had first-time shooters participate in the evaluation.
“You can listen to briefings about how to execute in the air, and even practice it in the simulator, but there is nothing that can replace actually getting in the jet and experiencing it first-hand,” said Lt. Col. Jeffery Peterson, 43rd FS commander. “Our instructor pilots were able to shoot missiles, one of them for the first time, which allows our F-22 (Raptor) instructor cadre to leverage that experience to better instruct future F-22 students.”
Much of the work that goes into executing a successful WSEP happens on the ground. The 325th Operation Support Squadron is responsible for making sure Tyndall AFB’s airfields are ready.
“Our teams are a critical link in ensuring the visiting units are able to focus on their missile shots to certify their crews for combat and in providing the (53rd Weapons Evaluation Group) invaluable data validating the kill chain,” said Lt. Col. Russell Badowski.
The 325th OSS Airmen perform runway, taxiways and navigational aids inspections, schedule and coordinate required airspace, validate and file the required flight plans, provide weather updates for the airfield and operating areas, and provide air traffic sequencing and separation for the missile shooters to and from their airspace.
“Every exercise has its own challenges, but … OSS thrives during these events,” Badowski said. “A WSEP provides exquisite training opportunities for our younger Airmen who don’t routinely get to see the increased traffic and associated complications.”
WSEP East 21.03 was also supported by the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, the 53rd Test Support Squadron and the 81st Air Control Squadron, all components of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, based out of Tyndall AFB.
In total, participants flew 87 sorties and fired 28 missiles.