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William Tell competition resumes after 19 years

  • Published
  • By Michelle Clougher
  • HQ Air Combat Command Public Affairs

The Air Force’s first William Tell air-to-air competition in almost 20 years takes flight at the Air Dominance Center, Savanah, Georgia, September 11-15, 2023.

William Tell 2023 will test aircrew performance in air superiority, while evaluating weapons use and the tactics used. The meet also includes weapons loading, maintenance and weapons’ director competitions.
“I am thrilled about the long-awaited return of the William Tell '23 Air-to-Air Competition, after a 19-year absence. This prestigious event brings together the best of the best from various units within the U.S. Air Force, showcasing their skills and expertise in simulated air combat scenarios,” according to Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command.

The two-week event will showcase the air-to-air capabilities of the F-22, F-35 and F-15 Eagle units representing various Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Force wings and the Air National Guard.

“Air Superiority is not an American birth right - it’s a constant fight,” said Maj. Kyle Brown, William Tell competition director. “William Tell 2023 is about resurrecting our heritage, sending us your champions, and competing. The USAF sets the standard for the Air Superiority mission, and it’ll be on display this September at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah Georgia.”

In the 19-year hiatus the Air Force has changed with fighter integrated tactics, 5th generation aircraft and near-peer threats.  

“Our unwavering commitment to air dominance remains steadfast, as we pursue and push the boundaries of innovation and excellence. As we participate in the long-awaited return of the William Tell competition, we reiterate our steadfast dedication to maintaining control of the skies in support of our Joint Force and multi-national partners,” said Kelly.

The historic competition is named after the legendary Swiss archer and was a biennial competition that encouraged the most challenging air-to-air scenarios since 1954. The meet was placed on hold for the past 19 years because of military operations tempo and contingency requirements.

While the U.S. Air Force still maintains a steady operations tempo, William Tell planners hope resuming the event will foster the exchange of tactics and better prepare Airmen for combat operations.