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Tigers tackle three exercises

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cody Sanders
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 79th Fighter and Fighter Generation Squadrons simultaneously supported three separate exercises with varying objectives from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, throughout November.

While the Tigers were originally tasked to Tyndall to support Checkered Flag 22-1 and the Weapons System Evaluations Program 22.02, the 20th Fighter Wing took the opportunity to include a Wing-driven exercise, Iron-Hand 22-02.

“We integrated with fighters from the U.S. Navy and USAF fifth generation fighters in preparation for advanced threats during Checkered Flag. Tiger pilots showed their combat leadership in defensive counter air scenarios by orchestrating tactics among various aircraft types to complete the mission,” said Lt. Col. Lawson Cass, 79th FS commander. “While supporting operational test objectives, we employed live ammunition in air-to-air test scenarios during WSEP East. Additionally, the Tigers helped design and practice lead wing and agile concepts in Iron Hand 22-02.”

Iron Hand 22-02, an agile combat employment exercise, required the 20th FW’s newly established A-Staff to lead, organize and coordinate logistics from the Wing Operations Center located at Shaw AFB.

“To make this happen we had to employ Tyndall and Moody as simulated host nations to give us food, lodging, base defense and the flightline,” said Maj. Derek Hagemier, 20th Operations Support Squadron chief of weapons and tactics. “As far as command and control, we tried to have minimal input from them to truly test our ACE capabilities.”

The Tigers, along with additional staff, then set up a Tactical Operations Center at Tyndall, a simulated contingency location, to manage all air tasking orders. To test the team’s rapid logistics and interoperability, the Tigers also set up a TOC at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, with the 74th FS.

“We have broadened the scope of Iron Hand 22-02 by being geographically separated,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Moffat, 20th FW chief of A-Staff. “At Shaw, we are practicing command and control relationships from the WOC to our F-16 TOC at Tyndall and the A-10 TOC at Moody. This geographic separation is key to making agile combat employment a reality for the 20th Fighter Wing.”

For Iron Hand, the Tigers had to launch from Tyndall to conduct close air support before performing an Integrated Combat Turn, which is a rapid rearming and refueling of the jet while the engine is still running, at Moody. After the ICT, the jets returned to delivering close air support before returning to base at Tyndall.

“Allocating lines to support Iron Hand throughout the Checkered Flag exercise in the mornings and Weapons Systems Evaluation Program shoots in the afternoon has been difficult,” said Maj. David Brady, 79th FS flight commander. “Although, with proper planning and coordinating ahead of time, our guys have been able to crush their objectives.”

Conducting successful exercises at a high rate makes the Tigers more agile, strategic and resilient in preparation for a downrange environment, and exercises of this magnitude cannot be executed alone.

“The last several weeks proved once again why the 79th is the best fighter squadron in the Air Force,” said Cass. “We couldn’t do it without the Tiger crew chiefs and maintainers who generated every sortie scheduled, an incredible feat. There is no better team the Air Force could call on to meet an emerging need.”