MAJ. Daniel Thompson conducted an F-16 Viper training over White Sands Missile Range. The US Air Force employs extensive training to prepare F-16 pilots, with a nine-month B-Course as part of the training. The training includes flying time, academic training, and simulator training. The B-Course provides students with the necessary skills to fly the F-16 and to operate it in all weather conditions. Training courses continue at the 162nd FW and the 56th and 49th FW. After completing training, pilots continue to train in operational units to achieve combat readiness. The Red Flag exercise is held several times a year at three different locations.
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Introducing the journey to becoming a Viper pilot – the iconic F-16 fighter jet responsible for transforming rookies into combat-ready aviators. It takes determination, skill, and months of rigorous training to master the F-16, the most widely operated fighter jet globally.
Fun fact: The F-16 has been featured in numerous books, films, and video games.
At the core of this training is the demanding nine-month B-Course. Highly coveted, this course provides Initial Qualification Training on the F-16 – an essential stepping stone for aspirational pilots.
Fun fact: The U.S. Air Force’s Holloman AFB trains an average of 180 F-16 students per year, clocking over 10,800 sorties and 14,600 flying hours.
But what does the B-Course entail? Pilots undergo extensive academic instruction to understand the F-16’s intricate systems and then progress to hands-on training in simulators, setting the stage for their first solo flight.
Fun fact: The B-Course includes around 70 hours of flying time over 59 sorties, complemented by approximately 245 hours of academic training and 69 hours of flight simulator training.
Further into the course, pilots tackle air-to-air and air-to-ground phases, mastering maneuvers, tactical intercepts, and guided weapons employment, proving their readiness for real-world combat situations.
Fun fact: After their B-Course, pilots continue intense training at operational squadrons and culminate in the renowned Red Flag air combat exercise, simulating realistic combat scenarios.
Ultimately, those who successfully complete the B-Course join the ranks of experienced Viper pilots, equipped to operate in various challenging scenarios and expand their mission sets.
Fun fact: The prestigious Red Flag air combat exercise was created in the 1960s to improve pilots’ chances of survival in combat.
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