A Lead Pilot's mission is to provide effective leadership to their flight to ensure combat effectiveness and mission success, while also ensuring the safety of his/her flight and other friendly forces. Lead Pilots are also the junior commanders of the 476th and have a pivotal role in training and mentoring junior pilots, and also provide an important link in the command chain between squadron line pilots and command staff.
Attaining a Lead Pilot rating is a necessary step towards becoming a Forward Air Controller (Airborne) and/or an Instructor Pilot/Weapons Instructor.
The Lead Pilot training process takes the form of natural skill progression that comes with experience, in addition to mentoring given by existing Lead Pilots and Command Staff.
In order to attain an LP rating pilot's must have successfully completed 476th Weapons School in their chosen aircraft, have acted as a mentor to a newly CMR rated pilot, and have received a recommendation from an existing LP, IP, WI, SEFE or member of command staff. Once a pilot is ready, they will fly a formal check ride and on passing the check ride they will be awarded a Lead Pilot rating in the relevant aircraft.