Exercises Combat Archer and Combat Hammer wrap up in Tyndall, Florida

News Article / February 10, 2017

Royal Canadian Air Force

Personnel and aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed to Exercises Combat Archer and Combat Hammer at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, from January 16 to February 10, 2017.

The exercise was the first time 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron had deployed a detachment of personnel since the fall of 2015. The training provided members of CF-188 Hornet squadrons with a valued opportunity to employ live air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons systems in Tyndall’s dynamic training environment.

Participation in these exercises enhances the RCAF’s readiness for missions, and builds the RCAF’s excellent relations with the United States Air Force.

“These exercises are a tremendous opportunity for not only the members of 401 Squadron, but the RCAF’s Fighter Force as a whole. It isn’t every day we have the chance to practice our live weapons capabilities, across all stages of the operation, said Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Mullins, the commanding officer of 401 Squadron. “The goal of this exercise was to improve capabilities, identify points of strength and areas of improvement, and ultimately prepare ourselves for the next time we are called into combat.”

Approximately 120 personnel, 13 CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft, a CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft, a CC-130T Hercules air-to-air refuelling aircraft and two Dornier Alpha Jets deployed to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, from across Canada:

  • 4 Wing/CFB Cold Lake, Alberta: 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1 Air Maintenance Squadron, 4 Wing Telecommunication and Information Services section, the Fighter Standards and Evaluation Team, and the Fighter Operational Test and Evaluation Flight from 410 Tactical Fighter (Operation Training) Squadron
  • 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario: 437 Transport Squadron (January 30 – February 10, 2017) (CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refueller)
  • 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba: 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron (January 16 – 29, 2017) (CC-130T Hercules air-to-air refueller)
  • Ottawa, Ontario: Specialists from the Fighter Force’s System Effectiveness Monitoring Program (SEMP), an organization which falls under the Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel)’s Director General, Aerospace Equipment Program Management, Fighters and Trainers
  • Discovery Air Defence Services: Dornier Alpha Jets (contracted)

Exercise facilitators came from a highly specialized group of units under the United States Air Force’s 53d Weapons Evaluation Group, including:

  • 53d Test Support Squadron
  • 81st Range Control Squadron
  • 82d Aerial Targets Squadron
  • 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron
  • 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron

The deployment was divided into three parts:

Part one: One week of general training activities alongside United States Air Force aircraft, such as the F-15 Eagle and F-22 Raptor

Part two: Exercise Archer, a two-week, live air-to-air missile exercise, using the AIM-120, AIM-7 and AIM-9 missile systems against BQM-167 aerial drones

Part three: Exercise Combat Hammer, a one-week full scale air-to-ground bombing exercise, using inert GBU-12 laser guided bombs, coupled with state of the art targeting telemetry, against realistic and live targets located at the Eglin Air Force Base target range.

Parts two and three were facilitated by the United States Air Force’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Program. Its aim is to evaluate a unit’s capability to employ a variety of weapons systems throughout all stages of the process, from storage and preparation, to use on a target.

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