by 1st Lt. Matthew Chism
1/25/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- During
the December Combat Hammer and Archer exercises at Tyndall Air Force
Base, Fla., active duty and Reserve F-22 pilots were able to employ
weapons on ground and air targets using the Increment 3.1 upgrade.
Combat Hammer, a weapons system evaluation program sponsored by the 86th
Fighter Weapons Squadron, and Combat Archer, an air-to-air evaluation
run by the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, provided the opportunity for
the 525th Fighter Squadron and the Reserve 302nd FS to train in a
realistic tactical training environment.
Before the Increment 3.1 upgrade pilots relied on outside sources to
locate ground targets and provide coordinates before dropping a weapon
on the ground. The upgraded Raptor's can use their Synthetic Aperture
Radar to map targets on the ground.
"The Increment 3.1 upgrade gives us the ability to self-generate
coordinates from our SAR maps, which at this time is unique to Alaskan
Raptors," said Capt. Graham Stewart, a pilot and flight commander with
the 525th FS. "This upgrade vastly increases our air-to-ground
The 12 F-22s from the 525th FS making the flight were supported by more
than 160 Airmen from the 3rd Wing and the Reserve 477th Fighter Group.
The team employed 15 missiles, 11 small-diameter bombs and eight Joint
Direct Attack Munitions during the exercises.
"Combat Hammer and Archer provides a unique opportunity for our pilots,"
said Lt. Col. Brett Paola, the 302nd Fighter Squadron commander. "The
training gave them the opportunity to drop the SDB and shoot missiles in
a real world training environment. The ranges around Tyndall Air Force
Base are one of the only places that we are able to employ in this
This training event allowed for Total Force Integration across the F-22
fleet. The 525th Fighter Squadron led a Total Force team from Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson. Pilots from both the 525th and the 302nd Fighter
Squadrons and maintainers from the 3rd Maintenance Group and the 477th
Fighter Group filled the deployment roster making it a true total force
effort from Alaska.
"We needed every person to make the mission happen," Stewart said. "It
also increases our squadron's relationships, because we have the
opportunity to work together so much more on these temporary duty
Exercises like this are critical to squadron readiness because it allows
the unit to practice actual weapons loading, preflight, and employment.
In addition, they validate that the aircraft are ready to employ their
new Increment 3.1 capability.
"For many of our pilots it was our first time shooting a missile or
dropping a bomb with the new system," Stewart said. "In less than two
weeks each pilot had an opportunity to shoot a missile, drop a bomb, and
shoot the gun."