Military Aviation

Edwards’ F-16s were activated at last minute to fire AQM-37D supersonic targets at HMAS Hobart

The F-16s are certified to fire the AQM-37D supersonic targets and a conflict in scheduling meant they were urgently required to support the joint testing by U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy off the coast of California

Two F-16s and a KC-135 from Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) were activated at last minute at the end of November 2018 to help Royal Australian Navy (RAN) destroyer HMAS Hobart complete the testing of its combat system.

The F-16s are certified to fire the AQM-37D supersonic targets and a conflict in scheduling meant they were urgently required to support the joint testing by U.S. Navy and RAN off the coast of California.

As told by Kenji Thuloweit, 412th Test Wing Public Affairs in his article AFTC supports high-priority U.S., Australian Navy test, the request came in the last week of November and testing was wrapped up on Dec. 1.

As a result, the HMAS Hobart was able complete its tests over the Point Mugu Sea Range without delaying her return to Australia with unfinished business.

“Edwards AFB was instrumental in the successful completion of critical International Test and Evaluation events that were being conducted by the U.S. Navy (Program Executive Offices Integrated Warfare Systems) and the Royal Australian Navy, by providing two F-16 aircraft and a KC-135 tanker on short notice,” according to a statement by the U.S. Navy PEO IWS. “Despite the last minute request that occurred just days prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday, personnel and aircraft from Edwards AFB supported the launching of two AQM-37D supersonic targets, which enabled the successful completion of the planned events. The RAN expressed their gratitude for the superior performance and cooperation of the Edwards AFB team. With the successful completion of the final events occurring Dec. 1, 2018, DDG 39 pulled into her home port in Australia just prior to the Christmas holiday.”

According to the RAN, the HMAS Hobart III is the country’s first Aegis Air Warfare destroyer, which was commissioned in September 2017. Hobart’s state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, including the phased array radar and missile systems, provides an advanced air defense system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at long ranges.

The participating F-16 pilots were Maj. Christopher Taylor of the 416th Flight Test Squadron and Maj. Jonathan Bearce, 461st Flight Test Squadron.

The 412th MXG team consisted of Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Rowe, Master Sgt. Jonathan Young, Tech. Sgt. Jose Arispe, Staff Sgt. Ernesto Sierra and Airman 1st Class Cierra-Mae Hanson.

Master Sgt. Jonathan Young (left) and Tech. Sgt. Jose Aripe, 412th Maintenance Group, inspect an AQM-37D supersonic target after it was loaded on to an Edwards Air Force Base F-16, Nov. 28, 2018. 

Photo credit: BU3 Dakota Fink / U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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