Air Force Resumes Fighter Competition

Five teams of Air Force fighter pilots are taking part in an air-to-air combat competition that was suspended for the past eight years because of real-world demands in such hotspots as Iraq and Bosnia.

The William Tell weapons meet, named for the legendary Swiss archer, began in 1954 at Yuma, Ariz. It was moved to this Florida Panhandle base in 1958.

The competition was held annually from 1954 through 1959 and then every two years, with some longer gaps for the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars.

A new event this year will test the ability of pilots to scramble their jets and identify a suspicious aircraft. It has been added to the two-week competition because of the Air Force's new focus on homeland defense in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Other Air Force pilots will serve as adversaries. Unmanned drones will be used as missile targets, and targets towed behind aircraft will be used for gunnery events.


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