Lonely Skies: Air-to-Air Training for a 5th Generation Fighter Force
Air University Maxwell Air Force Base United States
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This study analyzes how the US Air Force can use training to prepare its F-22 and F-35 pilots to meet future operational requirements. The author begins by reviewing six historic examples of the Air Forces use of combined flight and simulator training to provide a representative environment for pilot training. The author then shows how the lessons learned from these examples have led to the development of an air-to-air training approach that requires representative flight and simulator training at the squadron level. Next, this approach is analyzed as it has been applied to F-22 and F-35 air-to-air training to meet the combatant commanders requirement for the pilots to be proficient at air combat against enemy 4th generation fighter threats. This analysis reveals several shortfalls in the current training approach for the F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft pilots. Contemporary F-22 and F-35 pilots do not train against sufficient quantities of representative threats in flight or adequately dynamic threats in simulators. The author concludes that these deficiencies could lead to pilots applying the wrong lessons learned in training, which could reduce their effectiveness in combat. The author then analyses three potential changes the Air Force could make to fill the training gaps in the current approach. These gaps and proposed solutions provide insight into the requirement for the Air Force to invest not only in new technologies, but also in the means to train pilots of advanced aircraft.
- Military Aircraft Operations
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations