Playing Drone Darts

Alaska F-22 pilots shot down a target drone with AIM-120 air-to-air missiles during a Combat Archer weapon system evaluation at Tyndall AFB, Fla., late last month. “A lot of the young guys have never seen what it looks like to actually have a missile come off the jet,” said Maj. Russell Badowski, 90th Fighter Wing director of operations from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “It’s good for the guys to have that experience [so] the first time [isn’t] in the heat of battle,” he added. A total of 25 Raptor pilots and a dozen F-22s spent two weeks at Tyndall validating every facet of the F-22’s weapon capability—from pilot and jet, to the missiles themselves, according to the April 9 release. Pilots also live-fired the Raptor’s 20mm M-61 cannon, and tested the jet’s internal AIM-9 launch system from March 17- 28. Due to deployments and funding constraints, the evaluation was the unit’s first since 2010.