Approximately 130 Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing participated in RED FLAG-Alaska, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 7-22, where they refreshed skills and faced real-world scenarios to test their abilities in a high-paced environment.
The 176th Fighter Squadron conducted advanced aerial combat training with different aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, E-3 Sentry, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. Missions included offensive counter-air and defensive counter-air against an advanced enemy integrated air defense system, said Col. Steve Kensick, 176th Fighter Squadron operations group commander.
“It’s a great opportunity for the pilots to get a chance to fly in a different environment, drop live munitions and fly against multiple aircraft,” said Maj. Tom Nunamaker, 115th Fighter Wing deployed maintenance commander.
By providing scenarios based on worldwide threats and simulated combat conditions, RED FLAG-Alaska gives pilots an opportunity to gain experience required for combat. But aircrews were not the only ones who received great training.
“The 115th Fighter Wing maintenance group personnel had a chance to integrate within the active duty wing, and practice building and loading inert, live laser and GPS weapons,” Kensick said.
Airman 1st Class Samantha Quesnell, with the 115th Fighter Wing aerospace ground equipment, was one of those maintenance Airmen.
“When I come in for guard drill, I am working on a piece of equipment and making sure it is ready for monthly inspection,” Quesnell said. “It’s a fast tempo here, moving equipment around and coordinating with other units to make sure things go smoothly.”
RED FLAG-Alaska flying exercises were held in the Joint Pacific Range Complex over Alaska as well as portions of the Western Canadian airspace. The entire airspace was made up of military operations areas, special use airspace and ranges, resulting in a flying space larger than the state of Wisconsin. As many as 70 jet fighters can operate in that airspace at any given time.