Warplanes: Winning The Turkey Shoot


October 25,2008:  Four fighter pilots from the U.S. 13th Fighter Squadron won a world wide combat simulation competition last month. The "Turkey Shoot" competition had pilots using flight simulators, not actual aircraft, to attempt carrying out attacks against seemingly impossible odds. Over 300 missions were flown, using flight simulators in American air bases all over the world.

The simulators were linked electronically so that some pilots could act as the enemy, against the teams trying to get through and win the competition. This technology began development in the U.S. military over three decades ago, and is now widely used in all the services. If this exercise had been flown in actual aircraft, it would have cost over $9 billion (fuel, spare parts and weapons).

The basic scenario in a Turkey Shoot competition has a heavy bomber and several fighters trying to penetrate heavy enemy SAM (surface to air missile) and fighter defenses. The teams must carefully plan their attack, and then try to make all the right moves in order to get the smart bombs on the target. It's excellent training, because of the realism, and the competition angle. The winner was only slightly ahead, in points, of two other teams.

Details of these exercises are kept secret, as they often consist of new tactics and techniques that worked better than expected. Such information losses a lot of its usefulness if potential enemies find out about it.


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