Nomads with the Air Education Training Command 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, participated in exercise Northern Lightning from 8-19 August in Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin.
Northern Lightning is a joint training exercise that replicates today’s air battle-space and where the Nomad’s worked to enhance Agile Combat Employment and build combat-credible Airmen.
The Nomads stayed in Volk for roughly four weeks as they conducted off-site training and participated in the exercise.
“Out of our four weeks here, two weeks are the exercise; the other two weeks are program flying training,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Anthony Ortiz, an instructor pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB. “We’re doing everything from basic flying maneuvers, or dogfighting, to tactical intercepts.”
During the exercise, Nomads integrated with 4th- and 5th-generation assets from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air National Guard.
“Northern Lightning, or any exercise, is critical so that we can learn to work together, mission plan together, fly together, see strengths and weaknesses and be able to exploit that from the adversary,” said Ortiz. “Interoperability is a huge thing for the Air Force and joint military, so working with them and getting to do tactics with them is a great training opportunity.”
The 58th AMU supported the 58th FS as they conducted the training exercise.
“We’re here to fix all of the aircraft for the pilots,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Deonte Spann, F-35 production superintendent with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB. “We’re here to make sure we have safe, reliable aircraft and we’re here to make the mission happen.”
The 58th FS and 58th AMU working together alongside other units helped to produce a unique training experience for the student pilots.
“We’re flying 16 jets per day, we’re flying long sorties, and refueling at and getting to fly with tankers, which our students haven’t gotten to do,” said Ortiz. “The amazing flying opportunities and working with the other four or five units has been awesome for our students to see.”