Team Tyndall advances combat capabilities with F-35 munitions training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cameron Otte & Tech. Sgt. Betty R. Chevalier
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Team Tyndall accepted their first of many F-35A Lightning IIs in August 2023. As the installation transitions missions, the focus shifts to becoming combat ready and capable of supporting the Department of Defense in maintaining air superiority. This involves ensuring Airmen are prepared to deploy and fly aircraft when called upon to protect and defend the U.S.

During a Rehearsal of Capabilities drill, the base took the next steps in reaching its readiness goals when Airmen from the 325th Munitions Squadron, 95th Fighter Squadron and the 95th Fighter Generation Squadron prepared, loaded and deployed simulated munitions from the F-35A for the first time.

“The significance of this training event is [that it’s] the first full generation of combat airpower at the 325th Fighter Wing,” said Maj. Tyler Schochenmaier, 325th MUNS commander. “Additionally, it showcases the transition from Hurricane Michael recovery efforts to preparing for combat operations in the future.”

The 325th MUNS was responsible for making sure what munitions were needed for which aircraft during the mission. Upon notification, they went to work assembling and delivering the munitions to the aircraft. While the ammo troops specialize in the assembly and transportation, weapons Airmen in the 95th FGS are skilled with the proper procedures for loading the F-35.

“The [ROC drill] was critical to identify any shortfalls in our operations,” explained Master Sgt. Darren Kressin, 95th FGS weapons section chief. “It involved extremely short taskers to validate we can load munitions and get a pilot in the air given our constraints we have with construction and the environment at Tyndall.”

These munitions have no explosive ordnance, but allow the teams to practice correct procedures for when live munitions are used in the future. After the 95th FGS certified the weapons were ready for flight, pilots flew to Avon Park, a military range in central Florida, to practice deploying the bombs and ammo. In total, 20 dummy bombs were dropped and more than 1,000 inert rounds were fired from the aircraft 25mm gun during the training.

“This exercise get pilots and ground crew familiar with the production, transportation, loading and employing of the weapons,” said Capt. Justin Splain, 95th Fighter Squadron pilot. “In the future we will be looking to scale up these exercises, and we are working to identify airspace and ranges to be able to practice these skills in scenario-based training sorties. This exercise [was] a success since we set out what we meant to do, worked out all the kinks and had some lessons learned along the way.”

As the base continues to rebuild and establish a completely new fleet of aircraft, training events such as this help Team Tyndall rapidly advance its capabilities to meet Air Force and DoD objectives.

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work that the 325th MUNS and 95th FGS have put forward in preparation for this milestone,” said Schochenmaier. “We received the first F-35’s [in August] and five months later, we have pilots, maintainers, weapons loaders and ammo troops working in sync to execute munitions drops for the first time in our wing’s history. This sets the stage for what is to come: to project unrivaled combat airpower for America!”