The air-to-air Weapons System Evaluation Program [WSEP], known as Combat Archer, is conducted at Tyndall AFB, Fla. The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group at Tyndall AFB conducts Combat Archer, which exercises and evaluates the total air-to-air weapon system capability of Air Force combat aircraft. For these pilots who normally fly with training weapons at home, live-firing their weapons first at Combat Archer instead of in combat provides confidence. The first Combat Archer was held on 25 November 1985.


This exercise allows pilots to experience what they would see in combat. During standard training flights, pilots go through all the steps to fire a missile except actually firing one, so there's no way to clearly validate whether the shot would have hit the target other than what is written in manuals as a valid simulation. Since pilots rarely get the opportunity to engage in actual air-to-air combat this is truly a unique opportunity.


The average pilot may get the opportunity to fire one air-to-air missile in 20 years of training. "Some pilots may shoot one or two more, but rarely. Part of the reason this type of training is so hard to come by is that it requires a very large area, free from both ground and air traffic, to conduct the training safely. Combat Archer is uniquely set up to afford us this training and ensure the training is accomplished safely.


Not only does Combat Archer give aircrews the confidence from live firing weapons, but it gives Air Force weapons system managers a forum to verify system performance, capabilities and limitations. The program ensures the weapons work the way the manufacturer says they will work. -Combat Archer tests the weapons systems of every Air Force combat aircraft platform and evaluates aircrews from more than 40 different units each year who fire AIM-7, AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. The explosives in the missile warheads are removed and replaced with telemetry packages that track the weapons’ flight path. The telemetry provides data to program managers.


Aircrews shoot at targets that include MQM-107D “Streaker” subscale target drones and unmanned full-scaled unmanned target drones (QF-106, QF-4).

Information coming soon