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Alaskan Aggressors support PACAF 5th Gen readiness

Alaskan Aggressors support 3rd Wing combat readiness

Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons taxi down the flight line Dec. 7, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 18th Aggressor Squadron acts as the primary supporting unit for the 3rd Operations Group F-22 Raptors based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Alaskan Aggressors support 3rd Wing combat readiness

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Hickle, an 18th Aggressor Squadron pilot, reviews an F-16 Fighting Falcon maintenance log Dec. 7, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 18 AGRS prepares Combat Air Force, joint and allied aircrews through challenging, realistic threat replication, training test support and academics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Alaskan Aggressors support 3rd Wing combat readiness

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Hickle, an 18th Aggressor Squadron pilot, conducts pre-flight checks Dec. 7, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 18th Aggressor squadron pilots support combat readiness by providing realistic enemy threat replication in air-to-air training scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Alaskan Aggressors support 3rd Wing combat readiness

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief stands by as a jet prepares to taxi Dec. 7, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 18th Aggressor Squadron’s mission is to prepare Combat Air Force, joint and allied aircrews through replicating near-peer tactics and procedures and conducting air-to-air training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Alaskan Aggressors support 3rd Wing combat readiness

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots make their way to the flight line Dec. 7, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Due to the extreme temperatures in Interior Alaska, Eielson pilots must wear additional cold-weather clothing and gear specifically designed to help protect them from the elements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Alaskan Aggressors support 3rd Wing combat readiness

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off Dec. 7, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 18th Aggressor squadron pilots support combat readiness by providing realistic enemy threat replication in air-to-air training scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Alaskan Aggressors support PACAF 5th Gen readiness

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 28, 2016. The 90 FS maintains combat readiness with the help of the 18th Aggressor Squadron based at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena/Released)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Training never stops, at least not for the 354th Fighter Wing’s 18th Aggressor Squadron. The unit works tirelessly year-round to support continuous combat readiness and enhance U.S. and partner nations’ skills and capabilities.

During the winter, the Aggressors often train with the 3rd Wing based on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. While some may think the harsh environment and temperatures would halt training, the Eielson team finds a way to work through the challenge.

 

"We train all the time, in different environments, weather conditions, scenarios, and with different objectives in mind. We have all these variables because we need to be prepared for anything. The weather is challenging but sometimes we just have to work through it," said Capt. David Hickle, an 18 AGRS pilot.

 

The Aggressor Squadron’s job is to use its F-16s to replicate the aircraft type and capabilities an adversary air force would bring to the fight against US and partner nation air forces.

 

“We train with the 3rd Wing F-22 Raptors primarily in air-to-air scenarios. The Aggressors’ role is to provide a realistic threat representation of what it would be like to fight with near-peer adversaries,” he said.

The two wings work together and build training scenarios with specific objectives in mind. It requires a high degree of coordination but it keeps training focused and enables pilots to continue to prepare for what’s ahead.

This dissimilar air-to-air training provided by the professional adversary force of the 18th Aggressor Squadron has enhanced the quality and quantity of training for pilots across the Air Force and is a core part of RED FLAG-Alaska exercises hosted at Eielson.

“Air-to-air training is a highlight of RED FLAG-Alaska and a big part of why other units come to Alaska to train,” said Col. Richard Koch, 3rd Operations Group commander. “The Aggressors provide a quality in training beyond measure. Their knowledge and expertise helps us produce more wingmen, flight instructors and flight leads that are mission-ready.”

Although their mission keeps them in the training realm instead of direct combat, Koch notes the tremendous impact the 18th Aggressor Squadron has on readiness throughout the area of responsibility.

“The support we get from the 18th and the entire Icemen team helps generate combat capability throughout the Pacific; we’re extremely grateful,” he said.