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114th Fighter Wing participates in Combat Archer

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland
  • 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
One hundred and fifteen members of the South Dakota Air National Guard boarded C-130's and a KC-135 aircraft on Jan. 21st and 22nd with their destination Tyndall AFB, Florida. The unit will be in Fla. for two weeks to participate in Combat Archer, the air-to-air Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) conducted by the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group.

Combat Archer exercises and evaluates the total air-to-air weapon system capability of Air Force combat aircraft and allows pilots who normally fly with training weapons at home, live-firing their weapons. For these pilots live-firing first at Combat Archer instead of in an actual combat situation not only provides confidence but also camaraderie.

"Combat Archer is an extremely valuable exercise that we attempt to participate in at least every three years or so." said Lt. Col. Nathan Alholinna, 175th Fighter Squadron commander. "Depending on the pilot and whether he or she has deployed to war or not, it may be the only time that they actually get to expend live munitions throughout their career other than initial training."

Along with the 95 maintenance and support personnel, 20 pilots with the 175th Fighter Squadron made the trip to Florida. Eight of the unit's aircraft were also a part of the deployment package.

While the exercise is extremely beneficial for the pilots of the unit, the maintenance and munitions Airmen who deploy benefit greatly as well.

"We welcome the opportunity to travel to a new location and train." said Col. Joel DeGroot, 114th Maintenance Group commander. "It's the ultimate in job satisfaction especially for our weapons Airmen. They get the opportunity to see the full spectrum of what they do by sending up live munitions and watching the aircraft come back without them."