Weapon Instructors in the making…

Immediately after the Second World War a demand for weapon instruction was recognized by the Netherlands Airforce. Experienced pilots were trained at Leeuwarden Air Base to become shooting instructors. The location of Leeuwarden seem logical as it is strategically close by to the weapon ranges in Vlieland (Vliehorst) and Terschelling (Noorvaarder). Also the North Sea provided for a large exercise area. F-104’s have flown with large darts trailing on a wire for life shooting exercises. The shooting instructor became a tactical all-rounder; later known as a weapons instructor.

The F-16 arrived in the early 1980s. The testing of the F-16s was then in the hands of the EPAF (European Participating Air Forces), a partnership of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. This MOT&E (Multinational Operational Test & Evaluation) took place at Leeuwarden. Later, this alliance established the School of Weapons Instructor Training. In 1983 the first training was held and the Northern European Air Forces received their first F-16 weapons instructors. In 2001, Portugal joined the EPAF alliance.

The Royal Netherlands Airforce established the Weapon School within the 323 TACTESS (Tactical Training, Evaluation & Standardization Squadron) on 3 juli 1992. Next to the training of flight and weapon instructors it also provides Integrated Combat Training (ICT). 

The training have evolved from DIATIT (Diana Tactical Integration Training) via DIAWACS (Inclusion of an Awacs in the course) to FWIT (Fighter Weapon Instructor Training)

Nowadays officers from other service sectors are also admitted to the training. Previously, only pilots could become weapons instructors. From 2021, Patriot operators, intelligence officers and air combat controllers will also be trained as instructors. Therefor the 2021 training has been named the WIC (Weapon Instructor Course) with participants from Netherlands (F-16 & F-35) Belgium (F-16) Norway (F-35)

It is indicated that the participating pilots must be at least a leader of a group of 4 aircraft (‘four-ship lead’) with at least 800 flight hours on the F-16. In addition, the squadron must nominate the pilot for the weapon instructor course.


WIC/FWIT’s are held once every two years, both for planning reasons and as this fulfills the [present demand.  The future beholds the entry of the F-35, the MQ-9 Reaper , live coordination with helicopters such as the AH-64E and CH-47F and may also comprise extensive use of simulators that can be coupled in networks and use a mix of real life and augmented reality…

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