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Live missiles showcase pilots', maintainers' skills

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing sit in a KC-135 Stratotanker prior to departure from Dane County Regional Airport, Madison, Wis., May 6, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing sit in a KC-135 Stratotanker prior to departure from Dane County Regional Airport, Madison, Wis., May 6, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

Staff Sgt. Paul Epping, 115th Fighter Wing crew chief, prepares jet for the pre-flight check at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 9, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

Staff Sgt. Paul Epping, 115th Fighter Wing crew chief, prepares jet for the pre-flight check at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 9, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing prepare for the first flight of the day at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 9, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing prepare for the first flight of the day at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 9, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

115th Fighter Wing avionics Airmen test the radar of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 13, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

115th Fighter Wing avionics Airmen test the radar of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 13, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

115th Fighter Wing weapons Airmen carry a live missile to load onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft during the Combat Archer exercise at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 10, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

115th Fighter Wing weapons Airmen carry a live missile to load onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft during the Combat Archer exercise at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 10, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

An unmanned drone takes off during a training exercise to be shot down by 115th Fighter Wing pilots with live missiles at Tyndall Air force Base, Fla., May 11, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

An unmanned drone takes off during a training exercise to be shot down by 115th Fighter Wing pilots with live missiles at Tyndall Air force Base, Fla., May 11, 2016. The 115 FW travelled to Tyndall AFB for a training exercise called Combat Archer which allowed pilots, maintainers and operations Airmen an opportunity to train with live missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Kyle Russell)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing, Madison, Wisconsin, participated in the Combat Archer exercise conducted at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, May 4-21.

The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group hosted the two-week exercise designed to showcase air-to-air capabilities.

"This exercise was a special mission since it has been over a decade since our pilots last had the opportunity to fire live missiles, and some have never fired a live missile before," said Lt. Col. Jon Kalberer, 176th Fighter Squadron commander.

There were 10 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 115 FW that were evaluated, along with maintenance and operations. The 115 FW successfully flew 141 sorties, otherwise known as training flights, totaling 183.7 hours of flight time. The pilots also fired 17 live missiles.

"Firing live missiles is advantageous for the pilots in order for them to gain the experience in case of a real-world scenario," Kalberer said.

Working with live missiles also gave the maintainers a chance to showcase their abilities.

"Our maintainers had the opportunity to load live missiles and ensure their loading and handling procedures were verified," Kalberer said. "Combat Archer tests the entire process from loading to employing live missiles, and we passed with flying colors."

In order to ensure the aircraft were mission capable for the entire exercise, Airmen from the 115 FW maintenance squadron thoroughly checked and examined the aircraft before and after every launch. The maintenance Airmen exceeded the Air National Guard's expectation of 69% by ensuring 89.7% of the deployed aircraft were mission ready.

"I'm extremely proud of our Airmen for their hard work providing mission capable aircraft and for the quality of maintenance they performed which resulted in a perfect rating during the evaluation," said Maj. Jason Crabb, 115 FW aircraft maintenance officer.

The Airmen who attended the exercise were tested on 205 different criteria and passed all of them, sending them home with a perfect score.
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