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Eielson AFB team 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. Over 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)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Blade Dirickson, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 Fighting Falcon dedicated crew chief, inspects an F-16 before an elephant walk on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Blade Dirickson, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-16 Fighting Falcon dedicated crew chief, inspects an F-16 before an elephant walk on 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 Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

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.

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. A total of 32 aircraft were generated showcasing the wings’ ability to integrate and seamlessly carry out the mission in harsh arctic conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quitanilla)

Eighteen U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs and 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing and two KC-135 Stratotankers assigned to the 168th Wing form an elephant walk on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

Eighteen U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs and 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing and two KC-135 Stratotankers assigned to the 168th Wing form an elephant walk on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. The 354th FW and 168th WG worked together to demonstrate Eielson’s ability to launch a large number of aircraft at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 354th Maintenance Group inspects a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon intake for ice build up prior to launch for an elephant walk on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 354th Maintenance Group inspects a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon intake for ice build up prior to launch for an elephant walk 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 Beaux Hebert)

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

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing flies over Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. Thirty-five F-35As, F-16 Fighting Falcons and KC-135 Stratotankers conducted an “Elephant Walk” formation showcasing the air assets located in interior Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Dubois)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Wing taxis on the flightline Dec. 18, 2020 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Wing taxis on the flightline Dec. 18, 2020 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th Fighter Wing and 168th Wing conducted an elephant walk, a large show-of-force, displaying the wings’ ability to mobilize its air assets quickly and efficiently amid a global pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Dubois)

The 354th Fighter Wing and the Air National Guard’s 168th Wing aircraft line up in formation on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020.

The 354th Fighter Wing and the Air National Guard’s 168th Wing aircraft line up in formation on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Dec. 18, 2020. The elephant walk was a demonstration of the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)

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.

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. 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 -- The 354th Fighter Wing and the 168th Wing Air National Guard completed a readiness exercise Dec. 18, 2020, verifying the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. More than 30 fighters and two refueling aircraft were generated.

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 airpower of the 354th FW and the 168th Wing together.

"The Elephant Walk isn’t only to practice our abilities to respond quickly," said U.S. Air Force 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 Fighter Wing contributed to today’s event, and we proved what our team is capable of…supporting, defending, or delivering 5th 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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