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Reserve pilots train with upgraded F-22s

Story by
Maj. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

150801-F-PB632-206JOINT BASE ELMENDORF RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Alaska Reserve pilots from the 302nd Fighter Squadron dropped Joint Direct Attack Munitions from F-22s equipped with increment 3.2A, a software upgrade package, during a recent unit training assembly weekend.

"Performing this mission on a UTA is critical to readiness because it allows our unit to practice actual weapons build, loading, pre-flight, and employment," said Col. David Piffarerio, 477th Fighter Group commander. "In addition, this validates the maintainers, aircraft and pilots are ready to employ downrange with the new increment 3.2A capability."

The 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, based out of Nellis AFB, Nev., validated the software upgrades, which add electronic protection against jamming, better Link 16 receive capability and combat identification among other improvements, before it was added to the operational F-22s.

Dropping air to ground ordinance is not only good training for the pilots but also for active duty and Reserve Airmen from the 3rd and 477th Munitions flights, who build the bombs, and the 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who load the bombs on the jets allowing for the entire Arctic Warrior team to receive valuable training.

"This training is important because it provides our traditional Reservists with the opportunity to perform their respective functions in a realistic environment," said Master Sgt. Timothy Tuttle, 477th AMXS, Weapons Section Flight chief. "It is especially valuable training for weapons loaders to load munitions in a setting other than the Weapons Load Training facility. There is always a sense of pride when you are able to load munitions onto an aircraft and the aircraft returns home having expended its weapons, because you know that you performed your job correctly and directly impacted the mission."

During the UTA the Reserve pilots successfully dropped all seven JDAMs over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, a 2,490 square mile range equipped with live emitters and targets which create a realistic training environment.

"Every operations and maintenance Airman is critical to this mission," said Piffarerio. "Our cadre of experienced F-22 pilots validated this new capability and in turn passed along lessons-learned to our active duty counterparts. The 3rd Wing and 477th FG are integrated in every aspect of F-22 operations and maintenance and is critical to our combat readiness."