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Eielson AFB exercises rapid combat readiness, demonstrates arctic ability

Aircraft assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing and 168th Wing park in formation on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

Aircraft assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing and 168th Wing park in formation on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. More than 30 aircraft were quickly generated and prepared to launch in an effort demonstrating the readiness capabilities of the 354th Fighter Wing and the 168th Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing taxis on the flightline at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing taxis on the flightline at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. A total of 32 aircraft were generated showcasing the 354th FW and 168th Wing’s ability to integrate and seamlessly carry out the mission in harsh arctic conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quitanilla)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing flies over Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing flies over Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. More than two dozen fifth- and fourth-generation fighter aircraft and two KC-135 Stratotankers participated in the “elephant walk” demonstrating the 354th Fighter Wing and 168th Wing’s ability to rapidly mobilize aircraft in the harsh arctic conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Dubois)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) --

The 354th Fighter Wing and the 168th Wing Air National Guard completed a readiness exercise Dec. 18, verifying the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower at Eielson Air Force Base. More than 30 fighters and two refueling aircraft participated in the exercise.

The formation executed on the runway is known as an “elephant walk.” This formation tested the rapid readiness of every flying unit on Eielson AFB and displayed the combined airpower of the 354th FW and the 168th Wing.

"The elephant walk isn’t only to practice our abilities to respond quickly," said Col. David Skalicky, 354th Operations Group commander. "This is to show our Airmen who work behind the scenes what Eielson AFB is about, it’s about showing our strength in the arctic arena."

Skalicky continued, reminding the Airmen in a pre-exercise briefing, “We are executing this despite coronavirus, despite the extreme weather conditions, and despite that it’s one of the shortest days of the year.”

With great amounts of planning, preparation and communication, 18 F-35A Lightning IIs, 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons, and two KC-135 Stratotankers arrived on the flightline ready for a takeoff.

“Every Airman across the (354th) Fighter Wing contributed to today’s event, and we proved what our team is capable of … supporting, defending, or delivering fifth-generation airpower and advanced training. Stay tuned, because our combat capability will continue to grow, and I’m incredibly proud of the disciplined, professional, combat-focused approach our team displayed today,” said Col. David Berkland, the 354th FW commander.

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