IFF is an eight-week course designed to transform newly graduated pilots selected to fly fighters into fighter wingmen. The 49th Fighter Training Squadron teaches pilots the discipline, attitude and culture of what it takes to be at the peak of combat aviation.
“It’s their first glimpse of the fighter culture,” said Maj. Michael Overstreet, 49th FTS assistant director of operations. “We are a fighter squadron. All of our instructors are fighter pilots. We have a culture that is unique and to our own.”
Before a pilot enters IFF, they must earn their wings by graduating Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, a 53-week course designed to teach students aircraft flight characteristics, emergency procedures, takeoff and landing procedures, aerobatics and formation flying.
To ease the transition into more complex fighter aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35A Lightning II, IFF builds upon training learned in SUPT with a focus on the basic fundamentals of tactical aviation in the familiarity of the T-38C Talon.
“We try to help shallow the learning curve from pilot training to that B-course, or formal training,” said Capt. Cole Stegeman, 49th FTS chief of scheduling. “That’s why we use this program as a means of that indoctrination of fighter culture and what it means to be a fighter pilot.”
In addition to learning the basic fundamentals, students are taught how to become better wingmen. As a fighter pilot, you never fly alone. The term ‘wingman’ is not just a phrase, it’s a specific term that means so much more in IFF and carries a lot of responsibility in the world of aviation. Wingmen have the supporting role in the flight. They help the flight lead plan and organize the mission. They have visual lookout and sensor responsibilities and provide backup navigation for the flight as required. Wingmen execute as briefed or when directed by the flight lead and provide mutual support throughout all phases of the mission.
The video seems to have surfaced about ten years ago. From what I can summarize, it is of a student in a T-38C getting a handle on basic fighter maneuvers (BFM), more commonly and broadly referred to as dogfighting, in a one versus one engagement. You can see the gun funnel HUD symbology flop around as he struggles a bit to get the T-38’s nose pointed in the right direction to take advantage of his foe, then opportunity strikes! His instructor, gleefully declares ‘there’s the overshoot! Kill the motherfucker!” A number of maneuvers are executed with corrective commentary coming from the instructor in the backseat before the student has his adversary nearly in his sights.
Sensing a kill is near, the instructor starts doing his best Sam Kinison impression, screaming in blood-curdling fashion “Go get him! Kill him! Kill him! Killlll himmmmm! Put the nose on him and killl himmmmmm! Come on he’s out front, shoot him!” Meanwhile, the student exclaims frustratingly “I’m trying! Aaaaaaaahhhhh!”
Then, right as the student’s jet hits ‘bingo fuel’—alerting that there is just enough gas to return to base—and the fight is called off, he has his opponent in his gun funnel and his instructor lets loose a Joker-like victorious laugh.
Check out this little gem of a video below, as well as a bit tamer T-38C BFM instruction tape below it (also note the difference in energy states):