Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Live fire missile testing brought U.S. and Canadian aircraft to Tyndall AFB, Fla., for exercises last week, the Air Force announced.
The base uses 101,000 square miles of airspace above the eastern Gulf of Mexico, known as EGOMEX, as a test area, and U.S. military units are sent to Tyndall's Weapons System Evaluation Program to practice combat effectiveness. Last week, U.S. Air Force F-16s from Holloman AFB, N.M., Eglin AFB, Fla., and several planes of the Royal Canadian Air Force, participated in air combat training and live missile testing.
"EGOMEX is really a crucial location for this kind of training because we can't do this anywhere else CONUS [in the continental United States]," Capt. Mike Reid of the 314th Fighter Squadron said. "We have such a massive training field right here in our backyard and it's not something we can replicate or move somewhere else, it really is one-of-a-kind and the types of training we can do here is invaluable."
All models of current U.S. fighter planes, as well as unmanned aircraft, use the facilities of Tyndall's 53rd Weapons Evaluations Group.
"This week we have a few units here that are going to be shooting down some training drones, and we're going to be evaluating everything," said Staff Sgt. Wilfredo Western-Ortiz, a weapons evaluator. "It's similar to a deployed scenario where they come here with all of their equipment and personnel to load up missiles, take off and fire them and see how everything goes start to finish."