Tyndall Air Force Base hosted biannual exercises Combat Hammer and Combat Archer respectively during the two-week-long Weapon System Evaluation Program-East 23.01 to provide squadrons from across the Department of the Air Force a multi-platform training environment to conduct air-to-ground and air-to-air combat operations.
As today’s combat climate continues to evolve, staying ahead of the competition and being able to operate in any scenario is a necessity. Tyndall’s airspace plays a crucial role in training and combat readiness through WSEP-E exercises.
WSEP-E 23.01 showcased the Air Force’s lethality through air-to-air training with exercise Combat Archer and air-to-ground training with exercise Combat Hammer. These exercises also provide invaluable data for strategic planning moving forward.
“Combat Hammer is an all-around evaluation of precision-guided munitions,” said Staff Sgt. John-Barrett Ferreira, 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron WSEP evaluator. “[The goal is to get] from the stage of being built to weapons deployed, to hitting its target to achieve what we call ‘desired weapons’.”
Traditionally trained at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Combat Hammer focuses mostly on air-to-ground combat operations and the functions of specific munitions. Combat Archer, traditionally hosted at Tyndall, focuses on air-to-air operations and missile functions to ensure preparedness when needed.
“[Combat Archer] provides units with an evaluation of ‘here’s what you can expect in a deployed environment,’” said Maj. Andrew “Loch” Smith, 83rd FWS director of operations. “[The units] have to be able to show up to a base that they maybe aren’t familiar with, and they have to be able to generate sorties, load missiles, fire missiles, and do all this as though it is a real mission.”
Combat Archer’s focus is gathering data and statistics on air-to-air combat and missile functions during operations. Combining these two exercises, allows the Air Force to be able to adjust and overcome at a moment’s notice.
“It paints a better picture for the units to stay flexible,” said Ferreira. “Whether it be air-to-air or air-to-ground, [this training] is more of what they’ll see in a real combat environment.”
While the functionality of these operations will be used in deployed locations, most of the training members will rely on what they practiced here at Tyndall.
“You almost couldn’t do this mission anywhere else,” said Smith. “The ability to craft any sort of shoot track throughout the entire Gulf airspace of [180,000 square miles], that is the invaluable aspect of Tyndall.”