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Second to None: American Beagles

Lieutenant Col. Michael Dunyak, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron pilot, writes on a flight plan Oct. 27,after flying a T-38 Talon in Exercise Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse, La. The T-38’s played in the exercise and provides the F-22 Raptors an aerial training counterpart at Tyndall Air Force Base year round. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

Lieutenant Col. Michael Dunyak, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron pilot, writes on a flight plan Oct. 27,after flying a T-38 Talon in Exercise Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse, La. The T-38’s played in the exercise and provides the F-22 Raptors an aerial training counterpart at Tyndall Air Force Base year round. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

Captain Julio Gomez, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron medical doctor, is ready for his flight on a T-38 Talon Oct. 27, during Exercise Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse, La. The first week of the exercise focused on local flying with T-38s, the F-22 Raptors and the F-15 Eagles from NAS JRB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

Captain Julio Gomez, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron medical doctor, is ready for his flight on a T-38 Talon Oct. 27, during Exercise Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse, La. The first week of the exercise focused on local flying with T-38s, the F-22 Raptors and the F-15 Eagles from NAS JRB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

Captain Justin Hedrick, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron pilot, completes final pre-flight checks Oct. 27, before engaging in Exercise Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse, La. The T-38s played in the second week of the exercise on a large scale with different fighter aircraft from across the country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

Captain Justin Hedrick, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron pilot, completes final pre-flight checks Oct. 27, before engaging in Exercise Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Belle Chasse, La. The T-38s played in the second week of the exercise on a large scale with different fighter aircraft from across the country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 2nd Fighter Training Squadron has had many monikers. One thing that has remained constant throughout their evolution is their commitment to training for the future of unrivaled combat airpower.

The American Beagles lineage goes all the way back to Jan. 15, 1941, when they were originally activated as the 2nd Pursuit Squadron. Since then they have been known by multiple designations, such as 2nd Fighter All Weather Squadron, 2nd Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron and others.

Although the dog in the fight has had many names, they have strived to stay true to their motto -- "Second to None."

"The 2nd FTS has a mission of providing world class, professional air-to-air threat replication in support of F-22 Raptor combat and formal training squadrons," said Lt. Col. Erik Gratteau, 2 FTS Assistant Director of Operations. "We are a relatively small squadron of active-duty folks, as we have a lot of reservists and guard pilots that fly with us.  We are truly a Total Force integrated squadron. We have two flights of pilots, a squadron aviation resource management team, and an aircrew flight equip team."

The American Beagles are one of only two U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon adversary squadrons.  The squadron is manned by highly experienced fighter pilots and support personnel with backgrounds in virtually every USAF fighter major weapons system.  Additionally, the squadron maintains readiness to augment worldwide combat operations, according to the 2nd FTS's fact sheet.

Since being reactivated in 2014, the professionals of the 2nd FTS use the assets of personnel and equipment to preform multiple functions essential to Tyndall's mission.

"We provide adversaries to the 43rd Fighter Squadron and the Raptor formal training unit in effort to train the future of air dominance," Gratteau said. "Also, we provide challengers to the 95th Fighter Squadron to train them to support projecting combat airpower and agile combat support.  Additionally, we provide adversary support to the F-22s at one-third the cost of a 4th gen fighter."

"Without the 2nd FTS and its aircraft, the F-22s would have to fight 4th generation fighters -- F-16s and F-15s. Which takes away from their training and combat mission status and the monetary cost is two-thirds more to the Air Force," Gratteau added.

Even though the American Beagles do not fly the newest aircraft available to the Air Force, they provide a crucial need to train and project unrivaled combat airpower.

"I am absolutely proud of the 2nd FTS, American Beagles. We provide tremendous support to the F-22s considering the age of our jets and lack of technology -- and we do it well," Gratteau said.