The 58th Fighter Squadron executes exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Christian Corley

Nomads with the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, participated in exercise Northern Lightning from Aug. 8-19.

Northern Lightning is a joint training exercise that replicates today’s air battle-space and where the Nomad’s worked to enhance Agile Combat Employment and build combat-credible Airmen.

The Nomads stayed in Volk for roughly four weeks as they conducted off-site training and participated in the exercise.

“Out of our four weeks here, two weeks are the exercise; the other two weeks are program flying training,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Anthony Ortiz, an instructor pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB. “We’re doing everything from basic flying maneuvers, or dogfighting, to tactical intercepts.”

During the exercise, Nomads integrated with 4th- and 5th-generation assets from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air National Guard.

“Northern Lightning, or any exercise, is critical so that we can learn to work together, mission plan together, fly together, see strengths and weaknesses and be able to exploit that from the adversary,” said Ortiz. “Interoperability is a huge thing for the Air Force and joint military, so working with them and getting to do tactics with them is a great training opportunity.”

The importance of training was acknowledged throughout the 33rd FW.

“When you’re in a deployed location, you don’t know who you’re going to be working beside,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Deonte Spann, F-35 production superintendent with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB. “So, knowing how other branches and units operate prepares you for the future.”

The 58th AMU supported the 58th FS as they conducted the training exercise.

“We’re here to fix all of the aircraft for the pilots,” said Spann. “We’re here to make sure we have safe, reliable aircraft and we’re here to make the mission happen.”

The 58th FS and 58th AMU working together alongside other units helped to produce a unique training experience for the student pilots.

“We’re flying 16 jets per day, we’re flying long sorties, and refueling at and getting to fly with tankers, which our students haven’t gotten to do,” said Ortiz. “The amazing flying opportunities and working with the other four or five units has been awesome for our students to see.”

Spann believes the 58th AMU and 58th FS have the capabilities and expertise to successfully accomplish the mission anywhere.

“You can take the 58th FS anywhere and we will make the mission happen,” said Spann.

Exercise Northern Lightning 2022 provided more than just training for the Nomads and Wisconsin ANG units.

“I would like to thank the state of Wisconsin for having us and the National Guard Bureau,” said Ortiz. “The F-35s are coming to Madison pretty soon, so for us to be able to test the airspace, the range and all of the facilities, is a huge win for team Eglin, for the state of Wisconsin, for the United States and the Air Force as a whole.”

Source: Air Education and Training Command

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