Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998 Page: 19
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we have checked out a third of our unit. We may or
may not qualify every pilot. The necessity of qualifying
every pilot in a unit to fly with NVGs is one of the many
issues we address in the next year. Although we are
not a test squadron, we are investigating transition
issues for the ANG."
The qualification process begins with some familiar-
ization training on the ground. Pilots practice inserting
the NVGs into the helmet bracket and replacing the
batteries while sitting in the unit's ejection procedures
trainer in the dark. "The ground-based training gets
them comfortable with how the NVGs feel," Stohler
explains. "We want to get them used to the forty-
degree field of view before going out to fly. We do a lot
of focusing work. The best visual acuity we can get
with the goggles is 20/30 or, for some, 20/25. Not
focusing them correctly can cause eyestrain or, at
worst, pilots won't be able to see what they should
Fort Wayne's NVG training syllabus takes five rides
to be qualified to fly as a wingman. The five missions
begin with an introduction to formation maneuvering
at night and build to one-vs-one intercepts, to two-vs-
two intercepts (at beyond visual range and at visual
identification ranges), to surface attacks, and finally to
the employment of Maverick missiles at medium alti-
tudes. Two more flights are needed to become a flight
lead. To qualify as a four-ship wingman takes another
two training flights. Flight leads and instructor pilots
require four more flights to lead four-ships. Pilots who
have not flown with NVGs for 120 days have to go
through refamiliarization training.
Brown had a chance recently to compare his NVG
training syllabus with syllabi from other commands.
"The PACAF syllabus requires only five NVG rides to
lead a four-ship," Brown notes. "We require seven to
lead a two-ship and eleven for a four-ship. The ACC syl-
labus, on which we base our training, has no low-alti-
tude events even though we can fly with NVGs at low
altitude. We are beginning to address inconsistencies
in the training. The Navy has standardized its NVG
training. At some point, I think the Air Force will do the
same. For now, though, the Guard is taking a conserv-
ative route. For example, we will not be flying four-
ships until this summer."
Training pilots to fly and fight with NVGs is an obvi-
ous step in the shifting to night operations. A less
obvious step is the transition
of the system that supports
these late-night F-16 flights. Shiftingtnight op
"I get two recurrent questions cultural change for
when I go to conferences to
discuss NVGs," says Brown.
"How long will it take to make y I b
the transition to night flying?
And how do traditional part-timers handle the tran-
"Night flying is a relatively new concept to most
ANG units," Stohler adds. "The Guard not only relies
on part-time pilots but also on part-time personnel in
maintenance, weapons, operations, and scheduling.
Shifting to night operations can, therefore, be a big
cultural change for a Guard unit. We can't accomplish
the transition without getting everyone on board."
Stohler suggests that units going through the
change get the word out as soon as possible and dis-
cuss the transition with everyone affected by it. "We
start by explaining our own perspectives," he says.
"We're not just flying at night for the fun of it. We don't
enjoy doing debriefs at two-thirty in the morning. For
half a year or so, a unit will be flying two weeks of
nights a month, launching more than four jets a night.
The schedule may be determined by the phases of the
moon. Getting through the upgrade may be painful.
But once through it, a unit can go back to one week a
month of nights with six or eight flights a night."
The transitional pain results in a capability gain that
Stohler and Brown describe eagerly. "In some ways,
flying with NVGs is like adding a sensor to the
airplane," Brown explains. "At times it is easier to get
tallies at night than it is during the day. The effective-
ness depends a lot on the background lighting at
night. In the midwest, we have lights everywhere.
Chicago puts out an unimaginable skyglow. And we
can lose people in the lights. Desert operations are a
different story. Other aircraft cannot hide from us in
the desert. We can see their cockpit lights from miles
All F-16 pilots are required to fly four or five night
sorties per year. And these sorties, without NVGs, are
always a chore. "We always had to modify our tactics
at night," says Brown. "We would fly in a trail forma-
tion maybe three to five miles back, depending on the
mission. The distance is needed because the wingman
uses radar to keep to his station on the flight lead. In
these flights, ninety percent of a wingman's time is
spent station-keeping on his lead. Without NVGs,
LANTIRN pilots fly a seven- or eight-mile trail. A
twenty ship package would represent a 140-mile-long
parade of jets."
NVGs essentially allow pilots to fly daytime tactics at
night. "We deploy as a two-ship with AMRAAMs and
Sidewinders and fly line
abreast formation," Stohler
Ions can be a big says. "We are doing as much
uard unit. We can't of our daytime tactics as we
ion without getting can. Right now we are limit-
ed to two-ships, but we will
be checked out soon as four-
ship instructor pilots. After
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Lockheed Martin Astronautics (Firm). Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998, periodical, January 1998; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1023905/m1/21/: accessed April 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth.