The 366th Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho had 12 F-15Es and 12 F-15Cs flying over Florida during the recent Air Force-wide grounding of F-15s. SrA. Brian Stives reports that the Idaho Gunfighters, sent the aircraft and some 150 airmen to Tyndall AFB, Fla., to participate in Combat Archer training. It was the first opportunity the wing had to deploy its 389th Fighter Squadron with its newly acquired F-15Es and actually fire missiles during air-to-air training. The squadron has just transitioned from F-16s to Strike Eagles. The fleet-wide grounding, however, did curtail its actual flying operations from Archer’s standard two weeks to just three days in the air. “Despite having flying operations severely shortened, I consider our [weapon system evaluation program] deployment a huge success,” said Lt. Col. Richard Coe, 389th FS commander. The unit was the first operational squadron to validate the Strike Eagle’s air-to-air weapons employment using new software.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.