I find the below image extremely interesting.
It was taken a couple of years ago (most probably in 2010) and I’ve found it because it was recently selected by the 173d FW as their Facebook page cover picture.
It depicts four F-15 Eagles from the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, live-firing AIM-7 Sparrow medium range air-to-air missiles during a WSEP (Weapons Systems Evaluation Program) at Tyndall AFB, Florida.
Known also as “Combat Archer”, the WESP is an air-to-air exercise hosted by the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group to improve air-to-air tactics and practice weapons systems employment: fighter pilots rarely get a chance to fire live missiles, WESP exercises are almost always the first and only opportunity to use live air-to-air weapons and validate their shots.
Missiles used in Combat Archer tests don’t carry a warhead, replaced by telemetry packages, and are shot over the Gulf of Mexico at various types of drone targets (including the MQM-107D Streaker and the unmanned QF-4 Phantom aerial targets).
The F-15s in the image below are firing their AIM-7s at the same time, aiming at the same drone: in real combat operations, firing four missiles against the same target would be a nonsense unless the target is so important that you can’t afford to miss it (to such an extent you “waste” two or three missiles against it).
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
The following video, shows some F-15s involved in live firing exercises with AIM-7, AIM-9 shoot at QF-4 drones over the Gulf of Mexico during training sorties out of Tyndall.
- What a photo of two Soviet Mig-29s intercepted by four U.S. F-15s over the Bering Strait says about fighter tactics (theaviationist.com)
- Chemtrails, missiles, meteorites or falling stars? None of them. Simply some F-15s trailing a tanker during a Coronet East mission (theaviationist.com)
- Nellis AFB Strike Eagles: the 17th Weapons Squadron’s F-15Es at work (theaviationist.com)
- For the real aviation geek: F-22s, F-15s and B-2s filmed “in action” during Red Flag. From the ground. With audio. (theaviationist.com)