Military Aviation

USAF MAINTAINER EXPERIENCES WHAT IT’S LIKE FLYING A TRAINING SORTIE ON AN AGGRESSOR F-16

Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician was offered the chance to observe the mission from a perspective he’s never seen before; from 30,000 feet in the air

Typically, U.S. Air Force (USAF) Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician, is responsible for maintaining launch and release devices on aircraft and ensuring that explosive devices can be accurately delivered from combat planes. But prior to the 18th Aggressor Squadron completing their final sortie in Exercise Diamond Shield (DS), he was offered the chance to observe the mission of training and preparing Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter combat instructors, airspace battle managers, fighter intelligence instructors and fighter combat controllers of the RAAF Air Warfare Centre Instructors Course (AWIC) from a perspective he’s never seen before; from 30,000 feet in the air.

So, as told by Tech. Sgt. Steven Doty, 354th Fighter Wing, in his article An unforgettable flight in an unforgettable place: Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker’s F-16 ride over Australia, on Mar. 24, 2017 he was able to see how the ‘Red Air’ 18th Aggressor pilots simulated weapons capabilities against their ‘Blue Air’ AWIC F-18 Hornet targets, after having worked tirelessly for weeks to sustain the fleet of F-16 fighter jets throughout their intensive training schedule.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician, poses in front of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, in New South Wales, Australia, March 24, 2017.

“It was a pretty amazing experience to see the results of what our maintainers do,” said Walker. “And what better time and place than during a training exercise over Australia.”

Noteworthy Maj. Shawn McGoffin, 354 Fighter Wing deputy inspector general and F-16 pilot, who has been his host pilot for this special flight and coincidently identifies by his call sign, “Coach”, was just as excited to show him the process of completing a sortie; everything from mission planning to donning the flight equipment, to flight maneuvers and demonstrating the capabilities of the F-16 against ‘Blue Air’.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Shawn McGoffin, 354 Fighter Wing deputy inspector general and F-16 pilot, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician, taxi in an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, in New South Wales, Australia.

“Wes did well for being in a new and more challenging environment than what he’s used to,” said McGoffin. “I was happy to show him the fruits of his labor while we were up there training the RAAF pilots of the AWIC.”

Although the 18th Aggressor Squadron pilots will leave an incredible impression upon the students of the RAAF AWIC, there are few impressions as lasting as the one left on Walker…as evident by the smile he couldn’t seem to shake after having completed this unforgettable flight.

Exercise DS17, the second of four Diamond Series exercises conducted by the RAAF Air Warfare Centre, is an Australian Defence Force training activity where high-readiness forces deploy quickly to remote locations in Australia in response to a simulated security threat. The exercise  is set to run from Mar. 13 to Mar. 31.

The 18th Aggressor Squadron prepares combat Air Force, joint and allied aircrews through challenging, realistic threat replication, training, test support, academics and feedback during Exercise Red Flag Alaska as well as during the drills held in the Pacific theatre. The unit, which is based at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) in Alaska and flies the Block 30 F-16C/D aircraft, trains in the same manner as the aggressors at Nellis AFB, learning the flying styles and abilities of foreign air forces in order to train USAF pilots against realistic opposition.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Shawn McGoffin, 354 Fighter Wing deputy inspector general and F-16 pilot, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician, take off in an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, in New South Wales, Australia.

Source: U.S. Air Force; Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Steven R. Doty / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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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