May 12, 2008 (by Army Spc. Brooks Fletcher) - Members of the 18th Aggressor Squadron are playing an important role in Northern Edge 2008, an annual joint-training exercise currently taking place at Eielson AFB.
A1C Kyle Hughes, 354th AMXS crew chief, attaches a ladder to F-16C block 30 #86-0268 from 18th AS at Eielson AFB, Alaska on May 8, 2008.
"We are the bad guys. We are the 'aggressors,'" said Tech. Sgt. Gary Pursley, an F-16 Fighting Falcon flightline expeditor for the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.
The exercise, which began May 5 and concludes May 16, is designed to give Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines a chance to sharpen their skills prior to facing a real-world combat scenario.
The simulation of enemy aircraft allows the joint forces to train in a realistic environment for any world-wide crises.
The Airmen of the 18th AMU are working around the clock to ensure the F-16s are ready to fly. The squadron is under 24-hour operations, ensuring all aircraft are fully operational.
"The more you fly, the more you need to do maintenance," Sergeant Pursley said. "Everyone here involved in the air-centric operation piece of Northern Edge, flies against us, if the jets aren't maintained, then who will they fly against."
Maintenance personnel shifted in to high gear prior to the exercise, modifying the F-16s with wing-tanks, an adjustment made in order for the aircrafts to maintain longer flight times without having to refuel as they fly above Alaska.
Staff Sgt. Dustin Stewart, also a crew chief with 18th AMU advocated the core of the maintenance organization.
"We make sure (the aircraft) are serviceable and fixed right the first time," said Sergeant Stewart.
The 18th AMU is just one section of the 18th AGRS
, Eielson AFB
's joint and allied aircrew that prepares its forces through a 'know, teach and replicate' philosophy. The other component of the 18th AGRS is the 18th Fighter Squadron, who serves as the operations aspect of the aircraft unit.
With approximately 18 F-16 aircraft, crews of experienced pilots, aircraft specialists and crew chiefs, the members of the 18th AGRS are more than capable of supporting Northern Edge 2008, officials said.