TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (WMBB) — Tyndall Air Force Base is hosting more than 60 aircraft and crews over the next two weeks for the bi-annual exercise, Checkered Flag.
VFA-231 Commanding Officer, Bryan Pinckney, said with the amount of aircraft participating in this exercise, they always have to be on their A-game.
“Doing a lot of air-to-air, and a little bit of air-to-surface but primarily air-to-air,” Pinckney said. “We’re working with Air Force assets along with a variety of Navy assets here.”
US Air Force Pilot, Captain “Shack,” said they learn a lot about interoperability during Checkered Flag.
“We can’t just do things alone, we need F-22s we need F-15s, F-18s and when we all come out here and train together, it’s actually how we’re going to fight in the real world,” Shack said.
Checkered Flag Exercise Director, Lieutenant Colonel “Streak” said it’s an opportunity for the Immediate Response Force to execute in case they have to deploy for a real-life situation.
“In doing so, these different units can come together and coordinate and actually be able to build a network in these different areas to understand how each individual unit works so when they actually come together they can adjust how they operate in order to make the mission successful,” Streak said.
Pilots involved in the exercise said Checkered Flag not only builds camaraderie, it also builds confidence.
“If you’re going to do something in another theatre, you know ultimately that’s our job is being able to execute the mission and coming here, training to that, and being able to have that confidence, it’s something you can keep in your hip pocket,” Shack said.
Pilots said Tyndall is a great location for Checkered Flag because of the massive airspace with fewer restrictions.
“It’s very realistic training,” Shack said. “Not only do we have a large airspace but there’s also a lot of airplanes out there when a lot of the times, that’s just simulated. We can only replicate it in simulator training so being able to come out here and replicate that full-scale, is awesome.”
The exercise began on Monday, November 8 and will run through Friday, November 19.