Fighter Weapons Instructor Course trains Canada’s elite

FWIC Course Leadership
Left to right: Lieutenant-Colonel LM Wappler, Canadian Element NORAD Commanding Officer; Captain SB Maurer, Course Director, Fighter Weapons Instructor Course Aerospace Control Component; Colonel GJ Leist, Western Air Defense Sector Commander; Colonel B Bossellmann, 225th Air Defense Squadron Commander. Photo: The Courier

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Captain Scott B. Maurer with Capt Mat Strong – The Courier

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC) took part in an exercise with the American 225th Air Defense Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, from February 23 to March 23.

The United States Air Force (USAF)’s 225th Air Defense Squadron is part of the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS). The FWIC’s Aerospace Control (AEC) candidates worked alongside operators from 12e Escadron du Radar from Bagotville, Canadian Fleet Pacific, and USAF Air Battle Managers. The training used WADS’s integrated network of 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 Captain Scott Maurer, course director of FWIC’s AEC component.

The counter-air phase was the first time the candidates executed a live mission at the FWIC standard.

“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. It is the equivalent of a graduate-level education, and it is how the RCAF Fighter Pilot and Tactical Command and Control fleets train their foremost tactical and standards experts.

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 perform as experts once they return to the 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, 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 operators within their fleets. The course is designed to replicate the challenges of modern air combat, and is delivered along three main lines:

  • Academics: Candidates are expected to arrive with a comprehensive knowledge of weapons systems, tactics and doctrine. Once FWIC begins, candidates are exposed to highly detailed academics to expand, retain, and apply their knowledge in the resolution of complex tactical problems.
  • Execution: The practical element of FWIC includes complex counter-air, counter-land, and integration mission sets. Candidates have at least one dedicated FWIC instructor to monitor and critique every aspect of their execution. The goal is to produce the most proficient fighter pilots and AEC officers in the RCAF.
  • Instruction: Candidates are trained to be humble, credible, and approachable instructors, and their unit’s authority on weapons, tactics, instructional theory and standards. Through various exercises, candidates are required to apply instruction techniques and learning theory. By the end of the course, candidates are expected to be able to teach all mission sets and skills pertaining to their jobs.
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