USAF to test RAAF top fighter pilots

written by australianaviation.com.au | February 19, 2013
A USAF aggressor F-16s have arrived at WIlliamtown RAAF Base. (Josh Williams)

A brace of USAF F-16 fighters has arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown to participate in the RAAF’s Fighter Combat Instructors’ (FCI) course.

The aircraft, which are based at Eielson AFB in Alaska, are painted in dissimilar combat markings and its pilots are trained to mimic those tactics used by potential adversaries.

Commander Air Combat Group AIRCDRE Tony Grady said: “To be a Fighter Combat Instructor, you need to have attained the highest level of leadership as a fighter pilot to even qualify for this course, so the training is very highly regarded.”

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To this end, the USAF F-16 unit also possesses some of the USAF’s best pilots.

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47 Comments

  • Kim Hoffmann

    says:

    The F16 is what we should be getting and not the F-35 JSF!!!!

  • Angelo Calleja

    says:

    JSF the plane that may or may not work for Australia

  • Air Observer

    says:

    Good work if you can get it.

  • Brian

    says:

    F-16?

    1970s technology – we chose the F/A-18 over it. Production run is set to end in 2016 unless USAF orders more

  • Chris

    says:

    This deployment to Oz is yet another sign of how important the US-Oz / USAF-RAAF relationship is and just how world class the RAAF FCI are – regardless of what a/c they fly today or will do so in the future. Hopefully looking forward to a good feature article and some nice pics AA!

  • Josh

    says:

    The Aggressor F-16’s will be at Williamtown till the weekend, then the Oregon F-15’s will be arriving for 2 weeks to participate. Was amazing to see them do initial and pitch right above me and land aswell.

  • Matt

    says:

    Do you mean the F15s arive next Monday as in from the 25th?

  • Josh

    says:

    Possibly. The 16’s arrived Sunday 17th feb and FCI course starts 25th, so they may be here for 2 weeks, the same as the 15’s or they may leave on 25th and 15’s come. No source has really confirmed their arrival and departures so really hard to tell.

  • Ray says

    says:

    After watching 4 corners why are we still getting the F35

  • Matt

    says:

    Ok cool. Thanks for the update.

  • James

    says:

    Here’s hoping they stick around to give us a geeza at Avalon!

  • PT

    says:

    Because 4 Corners was taken for a ride by Goon and Sprey, without addressing their biases and ulterior motives?
    Because the general public love projects that spring instantly fully formed and perfect, like a fully-grown chicken from an egg?
    Because ignorant and ill-informed commentary forms the meat and potatoes of media reporting?
    Because in any matters to do with defence 4 Corners is completely out of their depth and cannot properly evaluate the opinions expressed by “experts”?

    There are a whole multitude of problems with the 4 Corners story (or stories, as this was their second attempt). The program focussed entirely on what the F-35 WASN’T, and not what it actually is. It isn’t a 1970s aircraft with a few modern avionic slapped on board, that is what the F-16 and Flanker is.
    Air Combat is not about hoardes of air dominance fighters facing off against each other in an apocalyptic fight to the death as civilisations wrestle to control the globe. So why design a fighter to fight it?
    Goon an Co’s “simulations” always ignore the strengths of the F-35 (including all the supporting enablers like AWACS and EW) and over-estimates the strengths and ignores the weaknesses of Flankers. Worthless.

    Why didn’t 4 Corners ask the obvious question: “What is the alternative?”
    Buy our own Flankers? Or the F-16, which has reached the end of its development life, and would be even easier kill for a Flanker? The F-22, which has its own problems, has some avionics/materials based on old technologies, is not available for export, and (before we forget) is no longer being made?
    If the obvious question is not being asked, then it is because the answer is not wanted. Such a question does not fit the agenda of the anti-F35 crowd.

  • Air Observer

    says:

    @PT
    Here, here.

  • Jumbo

    says:

    PT, nailed it!

  • Chris

    says:

    It seems every MIL Jet news item on AA deteriorates into a JSF slanging match but @PT – spot on mate! And I note the RAAF didn’t just send Hornets to COPE NORTH 13 but a complete air combat package.

  • Ben

    says:

    Will all the negative JSF nancies just move on. All aircraft that test the boundaries have had issues in development. Even the F16, F18, F111. The English Electric Lightining also had long development issues. Those of you who think a drawing translates to a perfect aircraft are living in Utopia, and that’s not the town in Queensland.

  • Josh

    says:

    @Chris, exactly true!

    But the article is about the USAF Aggressors downunder and somehow the F-35 comes up? Like seriously, post comments/thoughts whatever about the matter but the F-35 hasn’t got anything to do with it

  • John N

    says:

    Good to see aircraft of one of the USAF Agressor Sqns here, great training for the RAAF.

    But there is a growing question mark over the ability of aircraft like F-16’s, and other aircraft (I’ve read that F15’s will soon be included as aggressor’s) in the US inventory to “replicate” the aircraft and tactics that the US and its coalition partners, including the RAAF, are likely to come up against in any possible conflict in the years to come.

    In the comming years the older 4th Gen Russian and Chinese aircraft that are in various air forces around the world will start, and are starting to, be replace with much more advanced aircraft.

    More advanced 4+Gen aircraft, AESA radars, thrust vectoring, increasingly more advanced electronic warfare capabilities, advanced missiles, etc, and eventually the introduction of Russian and Chinese 5th Gen aircraft too.

    Will we eventually see F35 Aggressor Sqns or even some F22’s operating in that role, or will it all cost too much and they will end up being replaced by “simulations”?

    It will be interesting and challenging times for the US Aggressor Sqns in the years ahead.

    Cheers,

    John

  • Dane

    says:

    @PT, I’ve been asking the same question about what alternatives there are to the JSF and I’ve never a got a real valid answer from anyone. The fact is, is that is nothing else short of buying unmanned aerial combat vehicles which are still very much in their infancy and are experiencing their costing and time frame overruns.

    The JSF will be an amazing fighter when it is fully developed. It may take a while for it to get there, but it means we’re getting a good product.

    Back on topic, it’s good to see the USAF aggressors out here to put the Aussie pilots through their paces which no doubt they will.

  • BH

    says:

    @John N..
    I think the USAF have been operating F15 aggressor sqns for a few years now in conjunction with the F16 units.. I know of at least one that’s based out of Nellis..

  • pez

    says:

    I think future threats will be handled by better simulation. In cockpit simulation is progressing as of course are regular simulator, BVR with virtual targets. However, perhaps, some time the 2020s, we might see one or 2 F-35 aggressor squadrons replace the F-5s and F-16s to augment the virtual training (for WVR stuff) . Also, I can see a time where a standard F-22 squadron is used as the ‘Red Force’, but not as a full time aggressor unit.

    I really hope one manages to make it’s way down to Avalon, that would be great.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Yes, I know this article isn’t about the F-35 (and I also deplore the fact that it seems people will use almost any AA military fast jet article as an opportunity to attack it), however I would like to add to what others have already commented here: PT – very well said!

  • RonnyRAAF

    says:

    Well guys…I’ve found an answer to Australia’s F35 alternative woes!
    It’s the SAAB FS2020 or the NG Gripen E/F.
    Wow, what an aircraft this FS2020 will be.
    In the meantime the Gripen E/F Next Gen is going to be an awesome machine.
    Australia could afford a fleet of 200+ E/F fighters to the cost of 75 JSF’s.
    Then in the mid 2020’s get our hands on 100+ SAAB FS2020’s.
    Maybe it’s more than future submarine development assistance defence minister Smith is discussing over in Sweden right now.

  • RonnyRAAF

    says:

    Oh…one more thing.
    F35 is a great machine.
    Would love to see a Gripen at Avalon though 🙂

  • JustSayin

    says:

    Off/on topic…cant remember 4 corners mentioning the F35 stealth characteristics at all! Given it renders the aircraft virtually invisible to radar I dont know of any other aircraft from Dassault, SAAB or Sukhoi having stealth characteristics similar if at all!

    Cant wait to see AA air to air shots of the 15’s & 16’s in an upcoming issue 🙂

  • josh

    says:

    Has anyone got any sources of knowledge when the F-15’s are coming?

  • Scott

    says:

    4 Corners was NOT its usual balanced view, it was light on detail and heavy on allegations..

    The F35 is still in development, nothing in its development is abnormal. All major aircraft programs have had similar (proportional) delays so this is no problem.

    The F-16 is VERY 4th Generational fighter, the F35 is not and will be a better airplane by several magnitudes.. The F16 is / was a great aeroplane but is old technology now. Australia deserves to be closer to the cutting edge than superceeded technology.

    Nobody seems to remember that the F111 was HEAVILY criticised because it was 4 years late, Australis had to lease F4 phantoms in the interim, yet the F111 went on to distinguish itself with 40 years of reliable service… Shows how easy it is to stand about and mock an aircraft thats not had the chance to be fully developed….

    We’re not buying a holden commodore here, its new technology being invented and produces, its not going to be easy or quick to reach the top… it never is…

  • Andrew

    says:

    Any news on the f-15s arriving at williamtown? Are they still gonna be there?

  • Josh

    says:

    Got news on the F-15’s…. Sadly they won’t be attending, can’t say for sure the reason why but my guess would be cause red flag is on, but I’m just guessing.

  • Andrew

    says:

    Ahhh that’s a bummer, I assume the 16’s are gone by now aswell?

  • Josh

    says:

    I think the F-16’s will be here for another few weeks…

  • Lynda

    says:

    This is all wonderful talking about the capabilities of this craft and what should be on that one etc etc. At the end of the day if there was a war where these capabilities are required we would just be going along for the ride. Australia is just a pimple on an elephants arse in the world in most matters. We get superceeded technology because we will simply support America if a major war were to break out. No one is relying on little Australia to protect them so we get what we get and we better not complain about it. America is polite and civilized toward us so they participate in training us obviously they don’t want a bunch of pilots supporting them who a clusters but they don’t really give us much thought it is all to be polite because at the end of the day they will step in and take over. They let us do what we like at out end of the world because we are not a bunch of dirt scratchers who are going to cause a war but they keep an eye on us.

    I have seen an interview with a high ranking US military advisor who advised to Australia on our current capablities and going into the future and he believed we are purchasing assets which are far too big for what our realistic role would be in a war for the same reasons I have mentioned we don’t have the requirement for them and we are too small we do not have enough people for our military if any large country were to attack us we would struggle no matter what assets we have.

    I know my comments are probably offensive to anyone on here who is a current member of the forces or anyone else for that matter but I am a member of the civi world I am not a military person and this is just the impression I get when I listen to different advisors talking about Australia and it’s place in the world so when I see discussions like this I can’t help but think what is the point? With the current government we have who are hopeless we can forget discussing what aircraft we need they are too busy trying to out do each other in media interviews. Who is really looking at moving Australia into the future in a realisic approach rather than a bunch of people wishing we had this and that regardless if we will ever use it. Some people on here have made a valid point that one of the craft the F-35 is quite capable as it is and people should focus on it’s abilities rather than going on about what should replace it.

    As I said I am not interested in offending people or being rude this is just how I feel and after going to the Avalon Airshow in Melbourne last week I noticed a lot of the public or civilians just like the specticle they don’t really understand the aircraft and the complaints that some of you who are more educated on them have and I find it interesting to be able to get on here and talk to people where there are actually people who know what they are talking about. It is a bummer because I was at the air show and had some questions which I forgot to ask and only now when I am home I realise if only I had asked thos or that etc. Very annoying.

    If anyone could enlighten me in regards to my views it would be appreciated.

  • Ben

    says:

    Hey guys I live near Williamtown RAAF base was watching the F-16’s this morning had a early lunch at the cafe at Fighter World watched three of them land on the runway, black and grey camo, blue and grey camo and cannot remeber what the other colour was, also do not know how long they are here for.

  • josh

    says:

    The other scheme is the green and brown camo scheme. I saw them do initial & pitch when the first 5 arrived and was awesome….
    Hopefully I can see them again and as to how long they are here for?… No word from anyone when they will leave….

  • Raymond

    says:

    Lynda,

    You do seem to be a little too scathing… Yes, we aren’t a major power, and in anything more than a small-scale, low-tempo conflict we’d be in real trouble if acting alone, however I’d have to say that we do punch above our weight, and at the end of the day we are in a very close alliance with the strongest military in the world (amongst others). That’s exactly why we place so much importance on our relationship with the US and coalition operations, and devote so much to training together.

    Yes, if a large nation were to attack us, of course we would struggle without help. Yes, having a Government cut defence spending to the lowest level of GDP since 1938 (1.59%) doesn’t help at all either.

    I disagree with you that we get superceded technology; we have a high-tech warfighting force with some awesome capability (what we don’t have in quantity we make up for in quality). Also, the US does value us as an ally and partner, especially now that they have declared that their focus is shifting to the Asia-Pacific region.

    Regards

  • Lynda

    says:

    Raymond,

    You mentioned what we don’t have in quantity we make up for in quality and I would agree to some extent obviously the jets that were on display at Avalon were very capable but they are apparently old technology and when it comes to purchasing the latest stuff Australia slips down the ladder while other countries bully their way through to purchase these things because Australia seems to be stuck with high ranking military officers purchasing what they want almost like a list of toys and not necessarily what we need. The companies who sell to us don’t worry about Australia too much so too bad if we actually want something we just have to bully our way through. Then we end up with military personnel having to rely on simulators rather than the actual technology in the flesh. I am not arguing it is a case of quality I am saying I think sometimes we are purchasing things and then finding they are not up to standard or not purchasing something we are in need of also we are struggling to keep highly trained personnel to operate such equipment or they are employed to modify old technology to suit current requirements.

    The officer I referred to who was American and consulted to our forces as to what he thinks they should be doing if they want to continue into the future in an alliance with America believes based on his experience we are not focusing on the areas that we would most likely be required to support the Americans if we were to support them and yes we can punch above our weight I am not saying our military is below standard but purchasing extremely expensive high tech equipment and letting other areas of defence fall by the wayside is not ideal. How are we supposed to staff this equipment we can’t get enough specialists in the defence force because they leave to go to the mining boom which is happening here in Australia?He was also not definite as to what Australia’s position is in the future whether we will continue to align with America and it is a difficult decision Australia has to make so obviously that impacts what we purchase and what we don’t having a liberal or labour government also affects it.

    I think it would be great to be able to update aircraft when needed but unfortunately it appears the people responsible for such decisions are not listening on several fronts.

    I have nothing against us working in partnership with America and I appreciate their support and all the support they have given to many nations throughout history and I say bring it on the more America can get involved the better so I don’t want to come across as bashing America but I do think that it is unfortunate where Australia sits in the world as we have the abiltiy to be just like America we have a good attitude we don’t try to start wars like some other nations or have a history of starting wars but we are too small and it impacts on every area you care to mention including when you guys talk on here about the aircraft and whether they are still relevant models to be using unfortunately when private companies are involved and politicians mixed with the high ranking brass of the military it all goes pair shaped. It doesn’t help that the public gets a little lost when it comes to today’s style or warfare, they are not clear as to what America or Australia are doing in the middle east it all becomes a bit of a blur and it is far away from our daily lives unlike WWII people had an interest and understood the war today it is a little vague ask anyone on the street they will say the troops should be brought home but if quizzed on exactly why they go a little fuzzy. They don’t understand the tremendous work being done by the military so it effects their interest in military equipment and wanting to pay their taxpayers dollar for it so governments especially ours are stuck with going with what is politically popular not what we actually need.

    I understand you feel I am too scathing but I have not just come up with such a view overnight it is because I have listened to military and political commentators who comment on all these issues that Australia faces and one of those people claim, that we do rely on modifying old equipment because it is too expensive to purchase the newer stuff and in the long run it is not viable as we spend too much time and money on trying to change an old asset to suit current requirements rather than just buying something that has what we need and I am not sure if that is because we are not approaching the purchasing with enough balls and getting bullied or if it is a matter of the top brass and the politicians clashing to a point where nothing much ends up happening and we just go another year just fumbling by.

    Air superiority is number one and for us the Navy obviously as we are surrounded by ocean but try telling that to the public who have to pay the taxes for these aircraft to be purchased. The public attends the airshow and thinks wow look at that isn’t it awesome and thinks we have enough planes and anything else we need they don’t realise that pilots argue about the usefulness of the F-35 I understand what they are complaining about because I have taken time to read about it but the vast majority of the public don’t understand they go to an airshow just to look at things they don’t really know what they are looking at. We seem to be bogged down in Australia with talk about carbon tax, “boat people”, aboriginals welfare and if it isn’t that then unions are causing trouble or the greens are constantly winging about the mining boom so the military just takes a back seat because while there is no war on our doorstep the public are not too bothered they believe in peace they don’t remember that we are not the ones who start the wars we try to avoid them and having the best equipment means less war but try telling them that. You can watch shows like Insight and Q&A to see how misguided people seem to be.

    .All I can say is, it gets a little confusing for me if I was in the military I would know more and I will need to tell you the name of the people I mentioned that I have listened to in regards to this their name escapes me at the moment and you can see their articles and see what you think obviously they explain things a lot better than I do they are working with the military all the time but they comment on the same issues I have it is just a reality of the times we live in and when you are talking about such high tech equipment it all gets a bit lost by the time the public hears about it.

    I am not trying to be scathing if I hear some facts as to why I am missguided on my views I am happy to hear them but your response I have to say other than dissagreeing with me was a little vague. You say we have some aircraft with “awesome” capabilities. I am aware of that clearly, what I am saying is pilots get down to the nitty gritty and yes most of the aircraft are awesome but the conversation is a little more involved then that I am looking to get a response which explains to me where I am wrong because I have formed my view and obviously it needs more education but simply saying you dissagee with me because our stuff is “awesome” is a little light on detail for someone who is looking for info.

    I am not saying America doesn’t value our support I was saying the fact that we are in a “support” role is the very reason we have trouble getting the equipment we need. Is this correct I am not sure it is how I feel that’s what I am saying, let me know I am happy to hear I am all ears.

  • Andrew

    says:

    Is anyone able to say if the f16s are still currently at williamtown?

  • Robert

    says:

    Today ,(12/03/13), there were 2 F16s at Williamtown, they were parked near the Wedgetails late yesterday and remained there today. A black and grey one with AK320 on the tail, only moved once all day. It went out to the runway this arvo and began to accelerate to take off, but didn’t leave the ground, and went back to where it came from. The other was a blue one that stayed parked all day. On Sunday there were around 10 or so F16s flying around Williamtown.

    Cheers, Robert.

  • Josh

    says:

    I was at williamtown for the whole of Saturday and didn’t see any F-16’s leave the base, but saw them down the end parked. I saw about 3-4 blue tails and would presume that they are still here for the FCI course cause the f-15’s aren’t coming

  • robert

    says:

    When they are parked down the end, as Josh saw on Saturday, that would be because they are armed. That is where the bays are with sand filled blast walls between, where the planes are ‘bombed up’. Apparently the USAF won’t send too many at a time into the air without having them fully armed for combat, in case of surprise attack.

  • Josh

    says:

    So is there any confirmation that they are still here? I heard a rumour they were going home last Saturday or Sunday …..

    I know a standard operation day is just Monday-Friday, but the FCI course…. Do they fly weekends?

  • Andrew

    says:

    I arrived at williamtown yesterday for afew days and there is only two left, parked on the Tarmac. No action from them yesterday. Think they need some maintenance before flying back … It’s a shame seeing them sit there but not being used

  • Josh

    says:

    One of them probably has maintenance problems and the other is just there to fly back with the other jet.
    Any confirmation if they are departing this weekend, as I’m going back to williamtown again Saturday….?

  • Andrew

    says:

    Not sure when these two are leaving. I saw them land today at about 3pm so they were definitely up doing some flying, not sure if it was test flying or still part of FCI course.

  • Josh

    says:

    They may leave early Saturday morning so when they go back home, they will have crew rest for a couple of days

  • Robert

    says:

    They are still there today, over near the Wedgetail hangar. Yesterday they were parked over the other side of the Wedgetail area.

  • Josh

    says:

    Wow, I would have thought they’d be gone by now…. Is all 10 aggressors at williamtown still or just the two?

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