HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. --
Miami Vice? No. Miami Vipers!
This year the 314th Fighter Squadron from Holloman Air Force Base traded in the white sand dunes of the Tularosa Basin for the cool blue beaches of Miami for an exercise called Miami Agile Combat Employment.
Over 200 Airmen from Holloman experienced off-station F-16 Viper flying operations for the first time. This brand-new experience came with new challenges that Airmen must overcome in order to accomplish pilot and ground aircrew training and to complete the F-16 Viper B course.
“The biggest challenge we needed to overcome is comfort; we can’t replicate how we operate on home station and we needed to learn how to operate outside our comfort zone with fewer resources,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kirby Sanford, 314th FS commander. “What we saw at Homestead is that we can operate with less equipment and what we may have thought was mission critical is really just comfort.”
Rising to meet these challenges throughout the exercise resulted in Airmen acquiring the ability to serve in other specialties, pilots becoming qualified to re-fuel and prep their aircraft without maintainer support and training integration with other diverse aircraft.
“This exercise is shaping up to be one of the most successful off-station events in the history of the 54th Fighter Group,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Corbin Boyles, 314th FS Miami ACE project officer. “We are programmed to accomplish more sorties, upgrades, and syllabus events than any previous movement and we will do so without sacrificing our fighter training unit timeline.”
Building combat aircrew requires Airmen to practice like they play and training in Homestead enabled unique opportunities for Holloman Airmen to do just that.
“The airspace allows us to build more realistic training scenarios due to its quick accessibility by other aircraft platforms,” said Boyles. “This gives us the ability to work on our cross platform tactics.”
Over the course of the exercise the 314th FS worked with 27th FS F-22 Raptors, 93rd FS F-16s, 60th FS F-35 Lighting IIs, and multiple U.S. Navy assets. It’s important that pilots gain experience fighting with these aircraft to practice joint operations and receive new experiences not performed at homestation.
“Working directly with these aircraft presents new challenges to us that we couldn’t have known about until we were in the airspace with them training side by side,” said Sanford. “Our pilots have indicated that they better understand and are better prepared to fight alongside these aircraft if the time comes.”
The training and knowledge that pilots and aircrew gained from Miami ACE supplements what can be taught home station and can provide them with an impactful experience they otherwise wouldn't receive during their basic F-16 training at Holloman.
“My recommendation will be to do this exercise again every year,” said Sanford. “The airspace, the integration opportunities, and also the ability to train to our pacing threat is unmatched at homestead and is an incredibly important experience that our units should see more of.”