It looks like the AF is adding the F-15 to the Aggressor squadron down at Nellis to compliment the F-16s already in use. I’m torn with the news of the re-activation of the 65th Aggressors. On one hand, I had a BLAST while assigned to both the 64th and 65th (in fact, I helped transition the 64th from the F-5 to the F-16 and “closed” the 65th) with the F-5Es and am proud and happy to see that great squadron reborn; yet on the other hand, I don’t really see the advantage of using the Eagle as an adversary. Just as I couldn’t (and still can’t) see the advantage of using the Viper.
See, back when we got rid of the F-5s from the aggressor role, most of us couldn’t understand why the AF was replacing the aggressors with the same airframe that the majority of our squadrons already flew. The purpose of the Aggressors is to train pilots how to fight an enemy that employs different tactics AND airframes then what we use. It’s called Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT). When you use Vipers against Vipers, you only get ½ the training. You get Similar Air Combat Training. By adding the Eagle to the mix, you still have the same problem. The Aggressors will now have the same airframes as over 90% of the entire fighter community.
The beauty of using the F-5 back in those days was it showed without a doubt just how important the tactics employed by the pilot were. The F-5 would consistently “win” engagements against the Vipers and Eagles; both far superior aircraft, by tactics. In a typical two-week deployment, the F-5s would start the week by spanking the Vipers or Eagles, and intensely debrief each mission. By the end of the deployment, the F-5s didn’t stand a chance. The Vipers and Eagles had learned how to not only employ their jets, but their minds as well. By using an inferior airframe and spanking the hotshots, it humbled the Viper and Eagle drivers enough to listen and learn.
Back when we closed the 65th and transitioned the 64th to the Viper, most of us wondered why the AF didn’t buy a squadron of F-20s or F-18s if they wanted to upgrade the Aggressors to better reflect our adversary’s capabilities. They could have continued the long tradition of providing superior DACT training with a more realistic representation of the threat. I’m wondering the same thing again; how can you have DACT with the same aircraft?