The Air National Guard has again accomplished a successful Pike Live-Fire Exercise. The exercise was conducted from June 14-17, 2016 in Lake Huron near Alpena, Michigan.
Air National Guard A-10 C model jets from fighter squadrons stationed in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Baltimore were the stars of the exercise. Each air crew was armed with two AGM-65 Maverick missiles as well as 300 rounds for the 30mm cannon. The precision missiles lock onto their targets and explode below the water’s surface making minimal effects outside of the water.
Air Force Lt. Col. Matt Trumble, the exercise commander, said, “This is great training because it is an overwater range. The other ranges that allow us to shoot the Mavericks are in the desert, the pilots engage tank mock-ups. The overwater range gives them the experience searching for and engaging targets utilizing maritime tactics.”
This was the fourth year for this week-long exercise. The exercise gave the pilots the opportunity to train in an open-water environment simulating a need for them to engage a boat attacking a nearby ship. As the overwater range is 25 miles from shore, it provides the remoteness needed to fire the missiles. The missions are swift and effective; the jets fly in, identify the targets and moments later fire their missiles.
Trumble added, “There are not many places you can shoot the Maverick, a few places out west. Everyone east of the Mississippi has to take a long trip out west to get this type of training; for the teams participating in the exercise, this is a local mission for them. They can fire their rounds and then fly home without stopping.”
The Airmen and their equipment are hauled across Lake Huron from Thunder Bay in Alpena for nearly 25 miles before reaching the open-water range. The three-hour trip is made possible by the Wendy Anne tug boat. The captain and his two crewmen ensure safe travels for their Airmen and everything they need for the mission. Towed behind the tug boat are an Air Force whaler boat and a skid boat used to transport equipment. The whaler allows the range staff to move quickly about the area to set up the targets.
Future overwater range missions are scheduled for later this fall.