by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/29/2015 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- No
sooner did Tyndall's F-22 Raptors return from a successful mission in
Europe, they took off again for an exercise in the Mardi Gras City.
Over the past two weeks, 220 Tyndall Airmen participated in exercise
Southern Strike at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Belle Chasse,
La., just outside of New Orleans.
The mock deployment gave F-22 pilots the chance to fly with F-15 Eagles,
F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-18 Hornets, T-38 Talons, F-35 Lightning II's
and B-1 Lancer's from bases around the country.
"At Tyndall Air Force Base we train the future of air dominance," said
Col. Joseph Kunkel, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander. "What Southern
Strike is allowing us to do is bring our students into a realistic
environment where they can train with fourth and fifth generation
platforms in a high threat scenario."
The purpose of Southern Strike is to have multiple fighter aircraft from
bases in the southeast fly together and against each other in
air-to-air combat. The training allows students in Tyndall's F-22 basic
training course to get their air-combat training against fighters they
don't normally fly with.
The first week of the exercise focused on small-scale local flying with
F-22's, T-38's and F-15's from NAS JRB. The second week brought many
more fighters from other bases, like Eglin AFB, Fla., to make up two
teams, one red and the other blue. Those teams then competed against
each other in the southeastern skies.
Tyndall's F-22 student pilots can't always get the realistic training
they need flying around the Florida panhandle alongside their T-38
counterpart. They must take advantage of exercises outside of Florida to
obtain the training requirements they need for their F-22 Basic Course
"The experience is huge," said 1st Lt. Gregory Hermack, 2nd Fighter
Training Squadron pilot." Back at home, they fly against T-38's, which
is 1960's technology. So when you start adding in fighter aircraft like
F-15's and F-16's that are shooting real radar, you can better simulate
the weapons of real-life enemies and give the Raptor pilots more genuine
From deployments to Europe to exercises around the country, the F-22's
remain in the sky ready for whatever the country asks of it.
"As we continue to train and project unrivaled combat air power,
exercises like this are the key in making sure we're ready to go at a
moment's notice," said Kunkel.