EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- In the spring of 2019, the 354th Operations Group, Detachment 4 was established with the plan to eventually grow the unit into its own squadron.
The 354th Fighter Wing activated the 354th Range Squadron (RANS) on May 13, 2020, to increase the prominence of the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) as a venue for high-end air combat training.
“With the arrival of the F-35 [A Lightning II] at Eielson and the growing number of coalition partners buying fifth-gen aircraft, there is a need to improve airspace and range capabilities to allow pilots of these aircraft the ability to practice and refine their tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Lt. Col. Russell Reese, the 354th RANS commander. “The range squadron is dedicated to modernizing the range infrastructure to provide the necessary training aids to hone these warfighter skills.”
The 354th RANS is the U.S. Air Force’s manager of the JPARC, the largest over-land range in the Department of Defense and will work with partners at nearby Fort Wainwright to ensure it continues to be a valuable resource for all those who use it.
“In coordination with our Army partners on the range, we aim to provide expansive airspace coupled with a world-class bombing and electronic warfare range for joint and coalition partner training while enhancing and modernizing the JPARC for the future warfighter,” said Reese.
The squadron will act as a centralized location for units to address training infrastructure concerns in the JPARC.
“Activating the range squadron is a huge step not just for Eielson but for the entire Air Force,” said Col. David Skalicky, the 354th Operations Group commander. “As we bring new capabilities online, especially here at Eielson, having the appropriate range to train on and having the type of systems we have to train with is key to being able to train for the future fight.”
Reese expressed eagerness to start leading the recently activated squadron.
“I am excited to lead a very diverse group of military, civilian, and contractor personnel,” said Reese. “Their professionalism and dedication to the mission impresses me each day as they continue to modernize the JPARC’s range and airspace enterprise.”