Capt. Jonathon Breingan, an F-15E Strike Eagle
pilot with the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, is proud that
his airframe relies on two people sitting in its seats.
"We take the enemy head-on," he said. "We go out and destroy
targets. It's what we do best, and we're the best in the Air Force
at doing it."
The two-person team, consisting of a front-seat pilot and
back-seat weapon systems officer, work together to navigate past
enemy radar, defeat threats to their aircraft, find and "paint"
their target and then hurtle a 2,000-pound bomb to the heart of the
The Strike Eagle is not only unique in that it has two seats, it
also has a dual-role mission (air-to-air and air-to-ground) capable
of carrying a wide variety of weapons and an extra 10,000 gallons
of fuel -- more than just about any other fighter. That means it
can fight its way to a target over very long ranges, destroy enemy
ground positions and then fight its way back home.
According to Breingan, a two-person crew is invaluable to
survival in the air. Splitting up the visual horizon surrounding
the canopy, the two can scan the skies for potential threats.
"The sensors on the jet can always fail or maybe not pick up a
threat before it's too late, but two sets of alert eyes will not,"
"When we're entering a bombing run, it allows me to completely
focus on getting the bomb where I want it to hit, while my pilot is
looking for any external threats out there," said 1st Lt. Matt
Hund, a 336th EFS weapon systems officer. Although the Strike Eagle
benefits from technology, it still relies heavily on the human
element to put bombs on target.
"We (are) called on to do a job," said Hund. "Whatever that may
be, we stand ready for anything. We prepare and study and then
prepare some more, and when it's time to fly, you can bet we're
For some, such as Breingan and Hund, mentally preparing for a
combat mission in a fighter jet is a bit different than preparing
for a football game. Whereas a quarterback might take the night
before a big game to rehearse in his or her mind different plays,
scenarios and escapes, a fighter pilot takes his or her entire
professional life to rehearse for the "big game."
spend the last three or four or however many years of your life
training to do what we're here for. And (during) every mission
here, you're going through the exact same procedures you've always
practiced, using the exact same steps and techniques, so that when
you do fly a combat mission, it's just like being back home," said
Breingan. Confidence, teamwork and training make it easy to stay
focused and prepare for the eventuality of combat.
"Some people wait their whole lives for this kind of
opportunity," said Breingan. "We all know the training and skills
we possess are the best in the world. It's nice when you finally
get your chance to go out and do what you're trained to do." [ANN
Thanks Capt. Don Kerr, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public