Fighter Weapons Instructor Course trains Canada’s elite

Fighter

Left to right: LCol LM Wappler, CO CANELEMNORAD Det JBLM; Capt SB Maurer, Course Director FWIC AEC Component; Col GJ Leist, WADS Commander; Col B Bossellmann, 225th ADS Commander.
Photo: Submitted

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Logo and patch of the AEC FWIC Component.

Capt Scott B. Maurer with Capt Mat Strong

From February 23 to March 23, the Aerospace Control (AEC) component of the RCAF’s Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC) took part in an exercise with the United States Air Force (USAF)’s 225th Air Defense Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The 225th Air Defense Squadron is part of the Western Air Defense Sector, or WADS. The FWIC AEC candidates worked alongside operators from 12e Escadron du Radar from Bagotville, Canadian Fleet Pacific, and USAF Air Battle Managers. The training utilized WADS’s integrated network of sensors, communications, and battle control systems to control counter-air sorties flown by the FWIC Fighter Pilot component over the Gulf of Mexico.

“The outstanding support of the 225th Air Defense Squadron and WADS was crucial to the successful execution of this critical phase of FWIC,” said Capt Scott Maurer, course director of FWIC’s AEC component.

The counter-air phase was the first time the candidates were exposed to live mission execution at the FWIC standard. By the end of the course, candidates are expected to perform to the same level.

“This phase of the course is by far the most formative, and demands extensive resources, dedication, and effort from candidates, instructors, and supporting units,” Capt Maurer said.

FWIC is the pinnacle of the RCAF’s fighter pilot and AEC tactical training, the equivalent of a graduate-level education, and it is how the RCAF Fighter Pilot and Tactical Command and Control fleets generate their foremost tactical and standards experts – called Weapons Officers.

While operating at WADS, the FWIC candidates honed their skills in weapons control, battle management, identification, and surveillance – some of the functions they will be expected to be experts at once they return to the RCAF’s Theatre Air Control System (TACS) as FWIC
graduates.

A typical day during this phase of the course includes several hours of mission planning with FWIC fighter pilot candidates based in Louisiana; briefing and instructing a simulated student; execution of the mission; deconstructing the completed mission; debriefing the student; and studying to prepare for the following day.

After the month-long counter-air phase at WADS, the FWIC candidates will move on to the counter-land and integration phases at 4 Wing Cold Lake.

What is FWIC?

Fighter pilots and AEC officers selected for FWIC are already among the most proficient and capable operators within their respective fleets. This strong foundation is necessary to carry them through the rigours of FWIC training. The course is designed to replicate the stressors and challenges of modern air combat, and is delivered along three main lines:

Academics: Candidates are expected to arrive on course with a comprehensive knowledge of their own weapons systems, friendly and adversary tactics, and doctrine. Once FWIC begins, candidates are exposed to over a month of highly detailed academics to expand their knowledge and confirm that they are able to retain and apply their knowledge in the resolution of complex tactical problems.

Execution: Candidates are further challenged by the practical element of FWIC, which includes some of the most complex and difficult counter-air, counter-land, and integration mission sets they have ever seen. Candidates have at least one dedicated FWIC instructor assigned to monitor and critique every aspect of their execution, from the way they speak and act to their capacity to recognize a problem and implement a solution. The goal is to produce the most proficient fighter pilots and AECs in the RCAF, capable of exemplifying the standard and inspiring their subordinates and colleagues through their high level of proficiency.

Instruction: This element of the course ties all the others together and sets FWIC graduates apart from their peers. Candidates are trained to be a humble, credible, and approachable instructor and their unit’s authority on weapons, tactics, instructional theory and standards. Through various exercises, including instruction of simulated and real students in live execution and academics, candidates are exposed to challenges requiring an application of their knowledge of instruction techniques and learning theory. By the end of the course, candidates are expected to be able to teach all mission sets, and skills – technical and non-technical – pertaining to their jobs as AECs or fighter pilots, all at the graduate level.