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Eglin Water Exercise
Ordinarily, Choctawhatchee Bay is peaceful, and serene. But on Wednesday afternoon, for just a few hours, it turned into a war zone... sort of.
The exercise, called a swarm, is designed to simulate an attack from several small, high speed boats.
Dennis Beabout "Now the swarm threat, here we have thirty boats. The actual threat could be even larger than that."
Some of the boats are outfitted with fake machine guns, rocket launchers, and missiles. Military officials consider that type of threat realistic from third-world countries.
Dennis Beabout "They don't have the resources to build a navy like we have, but they can get a bunch of high speed, maneuverable, large quantity numbers of assault boats."
Some of the fake war fleet are hired right out of the Destin harbor.
Dennis Beabout "Here we have thirty boats. We're using resources not only from the Air Force but hiring resources from the local economy; the fishing fleet, the parasail fleet to aid us in this."
Together, the boats run in formation from the Mid-Bay Bridge to the 331 Bridge in Walton County, and then break up on the way back. Pilots try to take out the targets.
Dennis Beabout "They will make evasive moves, several types of evasive moves to try and evade being attacked. And of course the goal of the boats is to make it from bridge to bridge without, and still be alive."
Pilots stationed around the country come to Eglin to simulate attacks on the boats, and to test the effectiveness of both weapons and tactics.
Eglin says these practice exercises will take place on Thursday afternoon as well.