177th Fighter Wing at Combat Archer 2015

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Neal Snetsky, F-16 pilot with the 177th Fighter Wing, prepares to taxi his Fighting Falcon to take off on a training mission at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida on May 4, 2015. Fighter pilots, maintainers and support personnel from the 177th FW deployed to Tyndall for Combat Archer training at the 53D Weapons Evaluations Group, testing weapons systems, from start to finish, in the air-to-air realm. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Neal Snetsky, F-16 pilot with the 177th Fighter Wing, prepares to taxi his Fighting Falcon to take off on a training mission at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida on May 4, 2015. Fighter pilots, maintainers and support personnel from the 177th FW deployed to Tyndall for Combat Archer training at the 53D Weapons Evaluations Group, testing weapons systems, from start to finish, in the air-to-air realm. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Brier instructs Master Sgt. Frank Beck on the proper wear of his aircrew flight equipment prior to an incentive flight in an F-16D Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 7, 2015. Brier and Beck, members of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, deployed with their unit to Tyndall for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Brier instructs Master Sgt. Frank Beck on the proper wear of his aircrew flight equipment prior to an incentive flight in an F-16D Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 7, 2015. Brier and Beck, members of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, deployed with their unit to Tyndall for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Darren Custis, left, and Staff Sgt. Jamal Roy, aircraft ordnance systems mechanics with the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, perform a thirty day egress inspection, checking the integrity of the ejection seats and canopy of an F-16D Fighting Falcon on the ramp at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 8, 2015. Custis and Roy traveled to Tyndall along with 177th FW pilots, maintainers and support staff for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Darren Custis, left, and Staff Sgt. Jamal Roy, aircraft ordnance systems mechanics with the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, perform a thirty day egress inspection, checking the integrity of the ejection seats and canopy of an F-16D Fighting Falcon on the ramp at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 8, 2015. Custis and Roy traveled to Tyndall along with 177th FW pilots, maintainers and support staff for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darwin Coverdale, right, and Airman 1st Class Joshua Thomas, avionics technicians from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, remove a fire control radar antenna from an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 8, 2015, while Tech. Sgt. Robert Agzigian lends a hand to stabilize the array. 177th FW pilots, maintainers and support staff traveled to Tyndall for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darwin Coverdale, right, and Airman 1st Class Joshua Thomas, avionics technicians from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, remove a fire control radar antenna from an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 8, 2015, while Tech. Sgt. Robert Agzigian lends a hand to stabilize the array. 177th FW pilots, maintainers and support staff traveled to Tyndall for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

A U.S. Navy FA-18E Supert Hornet, from VFA-213 Fighting Black Lions based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, taxis on the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. on May 14, 2015 during Combat Archer, the Air Force's air-to-air Weapon System Evaluation Program.
 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

A U.S. Navy FA-18E Supert Hornet, from VFA-213 Fighting Black Lions based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, taxis on the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. on May 14, 2015 during Combat Archer, the Air Force's air-to-air Weapon System Evaluation Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Vince Avallone, right, and Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Celentano, weapons loaders with the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, load an AIM-9X pracice missile onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. on May 13, 2015.177th FW pilots, maintainers and support staff travelled to Tyndall for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Vince Avallone, right, and Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Celentano, weapons loaders with the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, load an AIM-9X pracice missile onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. on May 13, 2015.177th FW pilots, maintainers and support staff travelled to Tyndall for Combat Archer training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, reflects morning sunlight while chocked on the ramp at Tyndall AFB, Fla., on May 8, 2015. Fighter pilots, maintainers and support staff from the unit deployed to Tyndall for Combat Archer training with the 53D Weapons Evaluations Group, testing weapons systems, from start to finish, in the air-to-air realm. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, reflects morning sunlight while chocked on the ramp at Tyndall AFB, Fla., on May 8, 2015. Fighter pilots, maintainers and support staff from the unit deployed to Tyndall for Combat Archer training with the 53D Weapons Evaluations Group, testing weapons systems, from start to finish, in the air-to-air realm. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, FL. -- Airmen from the 177th Fighter Wing travelled to the Gulf Coast of Florida to participate in the Air Force's air-to-air Weapon System Evaluation Program, also known as Combat Archer, from May 4 through May 15.

Pilots, crew chiefs, maintainers and support staff launched and flew an average of 15 F-16 Fighting Falcon sorties per day in temperatures approaching 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity.

The WSEP is conducted by the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, an Air Combat Command tenant organization that reports to the 53rd Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The 83rd evaluates the total air-to-air weapons system including aircraft, weapon delivery system, weapon, aircrew, support equipment, technical data and maintenance actions.

"Using real firepower is absolutely imperative to our training," said Capt. Michael Gallinoto, a pilot with the 177th FW. "It helps build confidence in the fact that if we ever have to go up and employ these types of firepower, it is going to work in battle."

The 177th was not the only fighter unit at Combat Archer. The U.S. Navy had two squadrons of FA-18E and F Super Hornets at WSEP, VFA2-13 Fighting Black Lions and VFA-31 Tomcatters from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va.

"The unique thing we get to do down here is to actually integrate U.S. Navy with Air Force assets," said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Mitchell, FA-18 Program Manager and liaison for Navy Fighters at Combat Archer. "It is a great chance to share tactics as well as the experience of operating with, not just another unit, but a completely different service and the different ways we work toward the same mission."

In addition to the sorties for weapons systems evaluation, those deployed flew a unit record number of incentive flights designed to reward airmen with the ride of a lifetime for a job well done.

"You know they call it an incentive ride, but after my flight, I call it a whole new perspective ride," said Master Sgt. Frank Beck, 177th FW weapons armament systems NCOIC, and recipient of an incentive ride after approximately 35 years of service. It made me realize the importance of the work maintainers do on the aircraft and how important our job is, said Beck.

"It's been quite a few years since we had the incentive flight program running," said Maj. Jason Halvorsen, a 177th FW pilot who flew an incentive ride on this trip, and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. "It's an absolute blast...getting to show somebody else what we do on a day-to-day basis is unbelievable."