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, 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, 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.