An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 18th Aggressor Squadron takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 5, 2019. The 18th AGRS mimics the paint schemes and flying techniques from foreign nations' air forces to create a realistic training opponent for pilots across the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez)
An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 18th Aggressor Squadron takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 5, 2019. The 18th AGRS mimics the paint schemes and flying techniques from foreign nations' air forces to create a realistic training opponent for pilots across the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez)

Wolf Pack Airmen crush Distant Frontier, prep for Red Flag-Alaska

by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez
U.S. Air Force

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing are no strangers to working around the clock to conduct flying operations. This remains to be true even when they are on temporary duty and participating in back-to-back exercises. 

Kunsan’s 80th Fighter Squadron "Juvats" participated in Exercise Distant Frontier over the past week from 27 May - 5 June. The training exercise, which is supplemental to units arriving early for Exercise Red Flag Alaska or staying after Exercise Northern Edge, gave aircrew and pilots a self-paced environment to focus on training goals for individual sections. This means that the maintenance, aircrew flight equipment, and aircraft munitions teams, in addition to the pilots, will train in a more tailored environment than they would during a traditional "big picture" training exercise.

"Distant Frontier is great training for everyone involved," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Caseman, 8th Maintenance Group weapons standardization load crew member. "We can take the time to go over and train on basically anything we don’t have the time to at home station, and historically, we've been able to use live munitions which is rare for us to do."

During Distant Frontier, 8th FW personnel generated approximately 104 sorties totaling around 150 hours, including flights with Eielson's F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 18th Aggressor Squadron and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's F-22 Raptors from the 3d Wing. This level of training giving pilots and aircrew from the 80th FS a diverse and challenging training environment in which to hone their skills.

The exercise ended June 5, and Kunsan’s 35th Fighter Squadron "Pantons" have already started to prepare for participation in Red Flag-Alaska. The back-to-back exercises afford the two squadrons the unique opportunity to receive quality training in a different airspace and also for maintainers to hone their skills over a series of weeks.

While the 80th FS was the main player in Distant Frontier, the 35th FS will be Kunsan’s lead player in RF-A, using the same aircraft for a new training iteration, scheduled from 06 - 21 June. 

RF-A serves as an ideal platform for international engagement and the exercise has a long history of including allies and partners, ultimately enabling all involved to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures while improving interoperability.

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