Over 250 Airmen and 9 F-15 Eagles from the 104th Fighter Wing (FW), Massachusetts Air National Guard (ANG) recently deployed to Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, to take part in Weapons Systems Evaluation Program (WSEP), alongside Canadian F-18s, F-35s, F-16s, and F-22s.
As told by Master Sgt. Julie Avey, 104th Fighter Wing in the article 104th Fighter Wing Eagles on Target at United States Air Force’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Program, as a part of WSEP, the aircraft are loaded and shoot live missiles. The WSEP evaluates aircraft, weapons delivery systems, the weapons, weapons loaders, aircrew, technical data, and maintenance. The purpose is to gauge operational effectiveness, to verify weapons systems performance, determine reliability, and evaluate capability.
(This first appeared in 2018.)
“The WSEP does two things,” said Col. Jeffrey Rivers, Commander of the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, Weapons Systems Evaluation Program. “It feeds Combat Air Force’s (CAF) training and readiness. We get air crew experience for the first time subsequent to the events, sounds, sights, smells, and noise of a real missile coming off the jet in a realistic scenario they would find normally in training but now it is with real weapons and real targets to shoot at.”
The unit flew 212 out of 221 sorties, leaving only nine sorties not completed due to weather. Moreover during WSEP 104th FW flew 293.1 hours receiving a mission capable rate of 83% and successfully deployed 17 missiles.
Additionally the 104th FW fired 14,661 bullets, totaling 100 percent of the guns on the aircraft firing every time.
“Our deployment to Tyndall really had two different but complimentary themes,” said Col. William Bladen, 104th FW, Operations Group Commander. “The WSEP portion focused on exercising and testing the kill chain from the missile build all the way through its destruction of a target. It takes several miracles for a missile to complete an intercept. If anyone of them fails, the kill chain is broken. WSEP tested our people and our machines and both performed exceptionally well.”
The second piece of the deployment was large force exercises (LFEs) and 4-ship training and was focused on air-to-air engagements, as explained by Bladen. “With several other fighter airframes on the Gulf Coast, we were able to put together daily outnumbered scenarios that we cannot produce up here at Barnes. The last day of the trip we flew 4 F-15s and 4 F-22s against 14 “red air” fighters. For our training, we allowed the red air to regenerate after being killed by a blue air fighter. The final results of that mission: Blue Air killed 41 enemy aircraft and lost just one. While pretty phenomenal, perfection is our goal so the debrief focused on how we could have had a 41-0 ratio.”
Noteworthy even though the outcome of the mock combats is quite impressive, it comes as no surprise. As we have already explained in fact the F-15, featuring an unmatched air-to-air kill ratio of 104 to 0, is a true “air superiority master” and when the Eagle integrates with 5th generation capabilities of the F-22 stealth fighter enemy aircraft have almost no chance to win an air-to-air engagement.
This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2018.