Tyndall hosts Combat Archer: Evaluation through integration, employment
By Airman 1st Class Bailee Darbasie, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 01, 2019
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron conducted a Combat Archer exercise Sept. 16-27 on base.
Combat Archer is part of the 53rd Wing’s Weapons System Evaluation Program and the Department of Defense’s largest air-to-air live fire missile employment exercise.
“The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate the full spectrum of air-to-air employment,” said Lt. Col. Vaimana Conner, 83rd FWS commander. “It includes weapons loading, aircraft generation, weapons integration, aircrew employment and weapons effectiveness.”
This iteration of Combat Archer was the eighth exercise Tyndall has seen since Hurricane Michael.
“The test and training range near Tyndall is the only air space that can support this type of large scale event,” said Conner. “It was a major driving factor in keeping the base operating after the storm.”
Keeping the base operational has allowed for rotations of various units to participate in exercises while effectively testing and training their Airmen and aircraft.
“Combat Archer is the only opportunity for units to load and employ air-to-air weapons,” said Conner. “It’s a critical element of the U.S. Weapons School syllabus where future weapons officers are able to gain invaluable expertise that they can take back to their squadrons.”
This exercise was the first employment of the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, a technologically advanced version of its predecessor, the AIM-9. The new system includes infrared-tracking, air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities, making it a better fit for fighter aircraft.
Conner explained, the base has a long history as a staple for aerial weapons employment. From its early beginnings as an aerial gunnery school, to being the predominant host of Combat Archer and the entire mission of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, Tyndall has proven its aerial abilities—even after the storm.
“Team Tyndall continues to thrive during the rebuild,” said Conner. “Exercises like Combat Archer showcase the vital importance that the base provides to the warfighter and Department of Defense.”