Sunday, August 31, 2014

Western Air Defense Sector missions - and how NOT to be intercepted

By Maj Noel Luneau

In August 2014, members of Squadron 188 participated in a number of Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) missions. The goal of the missions is to provide USAF fighter pilots with valuable training in the interception of light aircraft.  CAP aircraft are ideal platforms for interception training as they are in the light aircraft category.

Without CAP to assist in a realistic interception scenario the USAF fighter pilots often have to practice with themselves, which is not as realistic as utilizing light aircraft as the interception target.

Maj Jeff Ironfield and Lt Jordan Hayes acted as the target aircraft in an interception, Lt Hayes acted as a Highbird communications relay for another mission that Maj Noel Luneau was Incident Commander trainee for, and Major Luneau and Lt Karin Hollerbach flew as a Highbird communication relay for a third mission.

144th Fighter Wing F-15 Eagle *

How not to be intercepted:
  1. Get a complete weather briefing the includes TFRs and NOTAMs
  2. File IFR or use flight following to ensure that you are in contact with ATC throughout your flight
What to do if intercepted:

As per AIM 5-6-2, an intercepted aircraft must, without delay:
  • Adhere to instructions relayed through the use of visual devices, visual signals, and radio communications from the intercepting aircraft.
  • Attempt to establish radio communications with the intercepting aircraft or with the appropriate air traffic control facility by making a general call on guard frequencies (121.5 or 243.0 MHz), giving the identity, position, and nature of the flight.
  • If transponder-equipped, select Mode3/Code 7700 unless otherwise instructed by air traffic control.
  • NOTE - If instruction received from any agency conflicts with that given by the intercepting aircraft through visual or radio communications, the intercepted aircraft must seek immediate clarification.
  • The crew of the intercepted aircraft must continue to comply with interceptor aircraft signals and instructions until positively released

*Photo source:

"144th FW F-15 Eagle" by Master Sgt. Roy Santana, US Air Force - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

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