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.