KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
For two weeks in May, F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., flew alongside 173rd Fighter Wing F-15 Eagles in Dissimilar Air Combat Training.
The training benefits student pilots at Kingsley Field by giving them the opportunity to fly against a different airframe, said Capt. Ryan Neely, a visiting instructor pilot with the 309th Fighter Squadron. He adds that students have the chance “to see something other than an F-15--different performance, different size, and generally different characteristics.”
Neely notes that there is an aspect of competition in “getting to test our game plan against their aircraft, which is different than what we fly against 95-percent of the time. And I guarantee you they are doing the same thing over in the F-15 squadron.”
Visiting the Pacific Northwest also brings them from 100-degree temperatures providing a pleasant setting for training, but Kingsley Field pilots are quick to point out the benefit of the training is the critical factor for the visit.
“There's always a healthy rivalry that exists between the F-15 and F-16 communities, but friendly rivalries aside, the premiere training that is occurring over these two weeks increases our capability as a Nation, as a service, and as the Air National Guard,” said Maj. Adam Gaudinski, a 173rd F-15 instructor pilot. “We take our lessons learned and apply them to any theatre of operations so we can dominate in combat with complete confidence.”
One way the visiting unit lends efficiency to the day-to-day training mission is by flying what is called the “red air” or aggressor portion of the sorties. This in-turn frees up cockpits in Kingsley jets and allows more students to fly for their training.
The partnership with Luke Air Force Base and the 173rd FW is deeply seated with the Total Force Integration that began at Kingsley Field in 2014. Kingsley Field’s Active Duty detachment, the 550th Fighter Squadron, organizationally falls under the 56th FW at Luke AFB.
The 173rd FW is home to the premier F-15 Eagle schoolhouse for the United States Air Force.