JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Alaska residents watching the skies may have noticed some unusual aircraft over the past few weeks.
U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles assigned to the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, California, trained with F-22 Raptors from the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as part of the Alaska Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training exercise from April 11 through 28.
The interoperability training provided by the F-22s and F-15s aided them in executing their real-world missions and dominating airspace in the western Pacific. As an Aerospace Control Alert trained unit, its mission is “to detect, identify, and engage threats to the homeland.” The 144th Wing may cover the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region if the Raptors are deployed.
“The goals of this mission were two-fold,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Vanbragt, 144th Fighter Squadron commander. “First, it frees up Raptor squadrons to deploy to Pacific Air Forces. Secondly, it helps fighter integration among our fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft.”
Vanbragt went on to say that the F-15’s assistance is paramount to the mission in Alaska.
“Sitting alert trains the alert squadron for protecting the northern border and the North Pole area from any threats that may encroach upon U.S. airspace,” Vanbragt said. “The F-22 Raptors have a high demand for their presence in the Pacific Theater, as well as in Europe.”
Training activities were held at JBER and the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. The JPARC airspace covers more than 77,000 square miles and provides a realistic training environment. It is also the largest instrumented air, ground and electronic combat training range in the world.
Pilots from the 90th and 525th fighter squadrons participated in the exercise, gaining a valuable sense of teamwork in air dominance, added Vanbragt.
Lt. Col. Brenden Torphy, 90th Fighter Squadron director of operations, said he and other unit members hope to continue this type of combined training.
“F-22 units are always hungry for partner squadrons and aircraft to integrate with,” Torphy said. “We look forward to any [future] opportunities to fly with Fresno again.”
Vanbragt stated that being acquainted with a modern battlefield stealth perspective was the most important factor in integrating with the F-22.
“It truly brings the concept of teamwork to the air dominance war,” he said.