ANG, Singapore fighters dogfight over Idaho skies

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
F-16 Fighting Falcons returned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, recently, and could be seen screaming across the skies above base as red- and blue-force aircraft.

Guardsmen from the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, located at Tucson International Airport, are currently visiting to train Republic of Singapore pilots on air-to-air maneuvers in the F-16.

"We are here training RSAF students because back home it's very hard getting every student the required amount of flying hours so we bring them up here and fly as red-versus-blue air forces.," said Lt. Col. Julian Pacheco, 152nd Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. "Our mission is to ensure these international students are properly and expertly trained for combat situations in the F-16. Being here gives us the additional sorties needed for their weapons course evaluations."

This is a specifically air-to-air exercise, he continued. Blue force is essentially the good guys and red forces are enemy aircraft. We're flying mornings and afternoons to support both squadrons training necessities.

More than 30 ANG Airmen and five aircraft are here supporting the students as they earn their qualifications.

"These students are involved in a five-month course and are currently finishing up the air-to-air phase of their training," said Pacheco. "They are close to finishing up the weapons-expert portion of their certification.

"Many of the sorties require multiple airframes, so being here is a perfect scenario as we can utilize the F-15SG's from the 428th Fighter Squadron," continued Pacheco. "This is a huge benefit because it's their own countrymen they are training and fighting against, who fly a completely different aircraft. Strike Eagles are different in that they have two engines as well as two vertical fins but more importantly they give our students the opportunity to see multiple airframes out in the airspace."

152nd FS Airmen train as blue force in the mornings and red force in the afternoons and then training reciprocates.

"We repay the 428th FS back for their assistance with our training by flying as red air or the bad guys in the afternoons," said Pacheco. "This way they can get their essential training sorties accomplished and there's the added bonus of them being against a different airframe."

One of the biggest benefits of training here at Mountain Home AFB is fighting against dissimilar aircraft, said Pacheco.

"When the only adversary a pilot sees is the same aircraft it limits the amount training which can be accomplished," he continued. "This is a great place for us to train because of the separate airframe, these RSAF pilots can train against their own countrymen, see the different aircraft on the radar, and the airspace is wonderful to fly in here in Idaho."

For Airmen preparing the jets for their daily sorties; there's only one priority regardless of where they are working.

"For maintenance, our main goal is to provide a safe, reliable aircraft for every pilot who flies regardless of whether they are a student or instructor," said Staff Sgt. Arturo Canez, 152nd FS crew chief. "It's important to support the aircraft and ensure they are safe for the pilots to fly, because at home we have more than 80 F-16's and it can be difficult or hectic trying to accomplish our mission there.

"Coming out here is a great change of scenery and allows the aircrew to have their red-versus-blue dogfights," he continued. "The base has taken great care of us and we really appreciate the warm welcome and top-notch facilities. We just want everyone to stay safe and have fun up there."

Despite what color they are, all training happens at mostly medium altitudes, combining intercepts and air-combat tactics.

"This is what we love to do--train pilots," said Pacheco. "Our aircraft are not currently combat coded due to our training status, however, our Airmen deploy on a regular basis in order to stay integrated with the Combat Air Force."