EIELSON AIR FORCE, Alaska -- The earth shakes continuously as a thunderous roar passes overhead. It’s source--rapid mobilization of Eielson’s entire fighter fleet.
F-35A Lightning IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and KC-135 Stratotankers rips through the clouds and as fast as the noise starts, it stops, and silence falls over the flightline.
Arctic Gold 21-2 was a readiness exercise designed to test Eielson’s rapid deployment capabilities alongside the newly implemented Agile Combat Employment strategy.
“This exercise strengthened our ability to mobilize and deploy lethal, expeditionary, fifth-generation airpower,” said Col. David Berkland, the 354th Fighter Wing Commander. “To deliver combat airpower we need the entire fighter wing team. No matter if you support, defend, or deliver airpower, be ready.”
With only half of its F-35A fleet currently, the 354th FW tested its combat tempo during this exercise by demonstrating its ability to rapidly launch, recover, and refuel the F-35A. The wing accomplished its mission and it was a resounding success.
“This is really the first time our combat squadrons are executing a combat readiness exercise of this scale,” said Maj. Lloyd Wright, the 354th Inspector General director of exercises and inspections. “We worked with units across the wing to provide a realistic training environment that really sharpened our edge as a combat wing.”
The IG office has been using their Wing Inspection Team to oversee the efficiency of AG 21-2 procedures. While battling a large snowstorm and a lot of firsts, the 354th FW continues to prove their readiness for combat in the Pacific Theatre.
During the high tempo launches on the runway, Airmen trained on rapid deployment and support capabilities, enhancing the process along the way.
“This exercise provided a glimpse of the formidable combat capability we provide United States Indo-Pacific Command: Two combat-ready F-35A squadrons on call,” Berkland said. “It wasn’t perfect and we learned a lot, but mobilizing 100 percent of our fifth-generation airpower on short notice is a testament to the hard work and excellence of our fighter wing team. Our mission continues to accelerate as the fighter wing changes to a combat culture and we drive on toward full combat capability, fueled by our disciplined, professional, combat-focused Airmen.”