Newest fighter pilots go forth from Luke with "Strength and Honor!"

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Christopher Bacon
  • 308th Fighter Squadron
Today marks the culmination of nine months of demanding aviation training for sixteen students from the 308th Fighter Squadron B-Course, Class 14-BBG. These warriors will go forth as newly minted F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilots, ready to do their nation's bidding.

The journey to fly the world's most combat proven aircraft was not easy. It consisted of 246 hours of academic lectures and computer based training with ten demanding tests. The graduates completed 45 challenging simulators learning to handle emergency procedures and execute air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics. However, the most challenging and rewarding part came when they strapped on the mighty Viper and slipped the surly bonds of earth.

Flight training began with the transition phase where the students learned how to take off, land, fly instruments, handle emergencies, and eventually become qualified F-16 pilots.

The next phase of training was Advanced Handling in which the students garnered a better understanding of the F-16's maneuvering capability. The students learned the most current techniques for employing the F-16 in one-on-one dogfighting, taking the aircraft to its maneuvering limits to kill and survive against a modern day threat.

The air-to-air phase taught BBG how to be a valuable member of two-ship or four-ship team against an air adversary. The students learned to operate as an element in visual and beyond visual range engagements. Once well versed in two-ship employment, they progressed on to the lethal four-ship.

The air-to-ground phase of training taught the students how to employ unguided and guided weapons, focusing on learning the numerous air-to-ground munitions in the F-16 inventory, and then employing those weapons while defending from both air and surface threats.

The capstone of class 14-BBG's training was a large force-on-force exercise known as Operation Begin Compliance. This complex mission consisted of 20 friendly fighters attacking a multitude of targets while defending against eight adversary fighters and many simulated surface-to-air threats. The planning and execution of this demanding mission provided a taste of the combat that is sure to come in their careers.

These fighter pilots were not alone in their endeavors. Behind 14-BBG was an entire fighter wing; organizations and people who were paramount to success. Emerald Knight Instructors worked many hours to teach these students how to be fighter pilots in the air and in life. Academic instructors from the 56th Training Squadron provided an invaluable resource to the students as both a source of F-16 knowledge and a source of fighter pilot history. Most importantly, 14-BBG would not be where they are right now without the tireless dedication of the 308th AMU who worked long hours to keep the jets flying. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the mission, 308th AMU.

To the students of 14-BBG, now is the time to remember the tough lessons learned in debrief, the stories of those who have been there, and the experiences you picked up over the 80 flight hours. Congratulations 14-BBG, you're time has come! Now go forth with "Strength and Honor!"