TYNDALL AFB, Fla. --- Tyndall AFB made history December 14 as a unit of F-1 Mirage aircraft arrived at the base in support of an Air Combat Command mass training effort in partnership with the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company.
For the next year or two, Tyndall AFB will house and support the contracted unit of about six aircraft, five pilots and 30 maintenance personnel.
“At Tyndall, we have all the right requirements in place so we could operate on time and not have to wait,” said Lt. Col. Jason White, 325th Operations Support Squadron Director of Operations. “Tyndall’s recent Environmental Impact Study allowed us to support the additional aircraft without a waiting period, unlike our brothers and sisters at Eglin.”
The ATAC was awarded a government procurement contract under Combat Air Forces to deliver an alternative airframe, the F-1 Mirage which is projected to replace Tyndall’s current fleet of T-38 Talon aircraft.
This new partnership will enable F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning pilots to engage in tactical airborne training, adversary air live training at Tyndall and other U.S. Air Force bases such as Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
“Adversary air is the most efficient training aide and this is something that (Air Combat Command) has been working toward for a couple of years now,” said White. “The aircraft will use non-live munitions, launch, and meet in the air space for simulated training including radio and radar operations for the purpose of training. The pilot would acquire the target, or the adversary, simulate engaging the adversary and then simulate firing missiles at the aircraft.”
Pilots are expected to begin training in January 2021 utilizing Tyndall’s air space.
“Tyndall’s shared air space is just South of Tyndall and extends all the way to almost Tampa and West to about the Alabama border out over the water and some land,” said White. “The Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest air spaces used for air-to-air training and live fire missiles. It is a national resource; having this training air space of this size and dimension which allows us to host an entire, simulated air war.”
ATAC’s Mirage training program is anticipated to fly more than 1,100 sorties over the next several years to provide adversary air support to the 43rd Fighter Squadron, which is the schoolhouse for the F-22s, and the schoolhouse for the F-35s, the 58th FS.
“Generally speaking, fighter (units) have to use their flying hours to practice, which takes away from training,” said White.
According to White, that means fighter units typically have to use their allotted flying hours to be both the good guy and the bad guy in the air.
“Tyndall’s airspace is the best place to fight air-to-air either over water or over land because of the un-obstruction,” said Lt. Col. Erik Gratteau, 325th OSS assistant director of operations. “We have 1,000 to 60,000 feet of space to fly and there are no mountains to have to navigate or encroachment issues.”
Air Force Special Operations Command Joint Terminal Air Controllers will also benefit from the program.
ATAC provides live air-to-air, air-to-ship and air-to-surface training for multiple branches of service across the Department of Defense.
“ATAC is excited to have been selected to provide adversary training… and we stand ready to serve additional future operating locations and customer as their needs evolve,” said Scott Stacy, ATAC general manager.