LFTE 20.03 sets standard for future test events

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Savanah Bray
  • 53rd Wing

“Large Force Test Events are essential to the how we test and develop the most advanced tactics in the Air Force, and LFTE 20.03 was no exception,” said Maj. Theodore Ellis, 53rd Wing Weapons Officer, and LFTE director. 
LFTE 20.03 integrated ten weapons systems, including the F-35, F-22, F-15E, F-16, A-10, E/A-18G, HH-60G, EC-130H, KC-46, and KC-135, from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy on November 17, 2020 to test four Tactics Improvement Proposals, known as TIPs, as well as various high priority tests. 
“In summary, the 53rd Wing designed this LFTE to validate tactics in a contested environment, further refine electronic attack tactics using updated capabilities, and optimize large force interoperability between 4th and 5th gen fighters with standoff electronic attack platforms belonging to the USAF and USN,” said Ellis. “It is also an opportunity to investigate the best methods to mitigate risk to our CSAR forces to ensure we know how far we can go to retrieve downed aircrew without causing more losses. LFTE 20.03 did exactly that”
The TIPs included: EC-130H electronic attack vs. datalinks whilst preserving Link-16, 4th and 5th generation suppression of enemy air defenses contracts, Combat Search and Rescue consequence management and CSAR in offensive counter air with A-10s and HH-60s, and 4th to 5th and 5th to 4th electronic attack effectiveness. Prioritized tests included F-15E Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System, F-16 APG-83, and counter-tactics against enemy Passive Detection Systems. The LFTE culminated in a joint, 20-aircraft multi-MDS destructive suppression of enemy air defenses engagement with Link 16 degradation.
“We owe it to the warfighter to test like we fight,” said Col Ryan Messer, commander, 53rd Wing. “It is only through realistic, massed force, fully integrated, high threat density environments that we can do that, and LFTEs are essential stepping stone events as we formalize what the future of testing like we fight looks like.” 
Large Force Test Events, and similar future test events, are developed to fulfill the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and its important call and reminder that, “Success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting.”
“Ensuring the Combat Air Force is lethal and ready starts with the 53rd Wing ensuring that we’re validating and fielding the most lethal, integrated, and modern tactics,” said Messer. “We cannot do this without events such as this and the combined effort of an effective team of teams – from operators to maintainers to security personnel and so many others.”