Exercise Northern Lightning Overview [F-35As + others]

Variants for different customers or mission profiles
  • Author
  • Message


Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 6856
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005, 04:14

Unread post12 Sep 2016, 09:17

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:
mk82 wrote:
I wonder which 4th generation platform achieved similar kill ratios (in a similar exercise).....oh wait.....none of them! :mrgreen:

The book I read it in is packed, but I recall the F-15A pulled something crazy, along the lines of 200-5. Not too shabby by any measure. If anyone has "The Great Book of Modern Warplanes" they can fact check for me.

Yet, today the F-15 wouldn't fair any better than any other 4th Generation Fighter vs the F-35. Which, means it wouldn't last 5 seconds.... :shock:


Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3188
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post12 Sep 2016, 09:20

botsing wrote:
arian wrote:
-- The story says the squadron scored 110 kills against “enemy” aircraft, but again that averages out to 0.56 kills per aircraft per day, which is not really impressive.

Agree with the writer here. I'm totally not impressed. Losers.


Yeah man, just like that looser called F-15 that only got 103 kills in 14,855 days making for an average of only 0.0069 kills per day.


Or how Operation Desert Storm was an utter failure on the Coalition part. They flew about 110,0000 sorties and only shot down less than 40 enemy aircraft. That equals less than 0.00036 kills per sortie, how pathetic... :bang:


Elite 4K

Elite 4K

  • Posts: 4889
  • Joined: 10 Mar 2006, 01:24
  • Location: Nashua NH USA

Unread post12 Sep 2016, 13:31

Corsair1963 wrote:
sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:
mk82 wrote:
I wonder which 4th generation platform achieved similar kill ratios (in a similar exercise).....oh wait.....none of them! :mrgreen:

The book I read it in is packed, but I recall the F-15A pulled something crazy, along the lines of 200-5. Not too shabby by any measure. If anyone has "The Great Book of Modern Warplanes" they can fact check for me.

Yet, today the F-15 wouldn't fair any better than any other 4th Generation Fighter vs the F-35. Which, means it wouldn't last 5 seconds.... :shock:

I'm not saying it would. I'm saying that even when Forth Gen came out there were lopsided victories against third gen.

-Aerospace Engineer
-Army Medic
-FMS Systems Engineer
-PFD Systems Engineer
-PATRIOT Systems Engineer
User avatar


Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 5596
  • Joined: 22 Jul 2005, 03:23

Unread post13 Sep 2016, 13:51

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:I'm not saying it would. I'm saying that even when Forth Gen came out there were lopsided victories against third gen.

Yep. F-15s and F-16s cleaned house in Israeli service, and F-16s were kicking butt in exercises. (Gums probably has some stories.)

"There I was. . ."


Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2054
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2014, 15:43

Unread post13 Sep 2016, 20:20

Gums has mentioned an 80-1 at Lossiemouth Scotland (vs F-4 & Lightning) before in the early 80s and similar thing at the following Red Flag so would be great to hear more about that.
User avatar


Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 401
  • Joined: 13 Jul 2015, 16:07

Unread post16 Aug 2019, 18:22

F-35 hunts Draken L-159E at Northern Lightning 2019. 8)
USAF Capt. Zachary Clements calls F-35 a supercomputer and praises the F-35's Range, Maneuverability, Stealth. 8)
https://wxow.com/news/top-stories/2019/ ... -exercise/
Practicing with the latest technology at Northern Lightning Exercise
August 13, 2019
VOLK FIELD, Wis. (WXOW) — Northern Lightning is an annual joint military exercises held at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas.

1,000 personnel from 20 different units will practice combat scenarios using some of the newest technology that the military has to offer. It’s the second installment of the exercise with the first happening in May. The primary goal for Northern Lightning is to get units working together and communicating with their technology, so they can be ready for combat scenarios.

F-35 combat fighter planes are some of the best in the world. These high tech planes among others are part of the focus in the exercise this year. These fifth generation combat strikers are some of the latest and greatest in the military. They are a step up from their counterpart, the F-16.

“It’s just a night and day difference, you can’t really compare the two,” said 58th Squadron Flight Commander Zachary Clements.

Clements has been flying in the Air Force since 2012, primarily with the F-16. Now, he’s inside an F-35, and it’s a whole new ball game.

“The best comparison is to look at vehicles that were made 35 years ago and think, would you want to still be driving that vehicle, or would you want to be driving a brand new vehicle,” said Clements.

One of the benefits of this fighter plane is its flight range and maneuverability during combat.

“They never see me really in a stealth airplane where they kind of always see you in an F-16, so essentially, what you get is if you can’t see me, you can’t shoot me, so I essentially get to shoot at you first,” said Clements.

That’s why pilots like Zachary are training now to communicate with other high tech planes and ground systems in a changing, modern world.

“In the days of old, the single unit of P-51s could fly and train together, but they didn’t really do a lot with the other airplanes that are out there, and they didn’t necessarily need to because they didn’t interact plane to plane or plane to ground like we do today,” said Col. Bart Van Roo, Exercise Director for Northern Lightning.

Northern Lightning runs until August 23 are involves the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard. This specific exercise has been taking place since 2003.

https://www.channel3000.com/news/tactic ... 1108911066
Tactical training exercise gives us an inside look at what makes F-35 jets so special
By: Amanda Quintana Posted: Aug 13, 2019 The F-35 jets could soon come to Truax Field
CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. - F-35 fighter jets are at Volk Field for the next week and a half, being used in the Northern Lightning exercise, a joint training including units from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy using some of the world's most advanced aircraft.

The F-35 jets from the Air Force and Marines are training alongside F-22, F-16, EA-18 and C-130 aircraft to make sure the different generations of fighter jets can communicate in a realistic training environment.

Madison's Truax Field could soon be home to a squadron of F-35 jets as the current F-16 jet gets phased out.

"It’s like the brand-new airplane! Every nation in kind of the free world is buying into this thing and it’s awesome to be a part of that," said pilot Zachary Clements.

Clements is from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He started flying the F-35 in October 2017 after flying the F-16 for years.

"It’s not even a comparison really," said Clements. "You go from a 4th gen plane to a 5th gen aircraft. You have the stealth -- that’s kind of the game changing technology there."

He said the stealth feature of the F-35 allows the planes to be undetected, giving them the first-shot advantage.

"In the F-16 everybody saw me from hundreds of miles away probably, and so they could shoot me really whenever they wanted to. In the F-35 they can not see you, and if they can see you they can’t really shoot at you until it’s way late, and by that time you really have already taken multiple shots against them," said Clements.

He said the F-35 is more advanced, calling it a flying supercomputer.

"The F-16 was built 30 years ago. It doesn’t really matter how much you add to it, it can never really be kinda what the F-35 is," said Clements.

Exercise director Col. Bart Van Roo compared the F-16 to an old iPhone.

"You can upgrade it and it’ll work better, but it’s limited what processing power it has," said Van Roo. "The F-35 is really more like my iPhone 10 and was at least designed in the '90s so that it has a lot more expandable capabilities. So they built it with better technology, but they also built it to receive better technology."

A draft environmental impact report released recently shows if the F-35 jets come to Truax Field, it will significantly increase noise on the north side of the city, but Clements said the jets would make things easier for pilots.

The Wisconsin National Guard is currently accepting public comment about the environmental impacts. There is also a meeting on Sept. 12 at the Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall.

https://defence-blog.com/news/u-s-air-f ... craft.html
U.S. Air Force F-35A fighters staged “hunt” for L-159 aircraft
Aug 15, 2019 in Aviation, News, Photo
U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighters held a real hunt for Draken International’s L-159 Honey Badger multi-role aircraft during the Northern Lightning exercise at Volk Field, Wisconsin.

U.S. Air Force Airmen on its F-35A fighter jets assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing take part in annual Northern Lightning exercise. August’s edition of the exercise is the second iteration of Northern Lightning this year, the first of which occurred in May.

Pilots and air crews participating in Northern Lightning can expect to operate in a contested environment with adversary aircraft, electronic jamming and simulated surface-to-air threats, and such training is critical to building readiness for the threats and missions the nation faces.

Northern Lightning is a tactical level, joint training exercise replicating today’s air battle space with current and future weapons platforms. A variety of the world’s most advanced aircraft including the F-35, F-22, F-16, EA-18, and C-130 will participate in the exercise.

Draken International, the adversary support contractor with the world’s largest private tactical jet air force also take part in the exercise.

Draken supports military training objectives around the globe, providing tremendous cost savings over the use of traditional military fighter assets. As an organization, Draken is uniquely positioned to answer the growing demand for contract air support.

The L-159E Honey Badger is a Boeing and Aero Vodochody designed single-seat, multi-role aircraft capable of supporting a variety of air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions. The L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA) are all virtually brand new 4th Generation fighters, which were specifically modified to meet Draken’s demanding performance requirements.

According to Draken’s website, the L-159 Honey Badger features a multi-mode 4th generation Leonardo Grifo-L radar that permits all-weather, day and night operations. The L-159E can also carry a wide range of US and NATO standard ordinance including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided bombs. This aircraft can also carry the LITENING Pod and other specially designed Electronic Attack (EA) pods to satisfy a verity of customer requirements.

https://www.nbc15.com/content/news/Thou ... 16681.html
Thousands of troops train at Volk Field in Juneau County
By NBC15 Staff | Posted: Tue 10:32 PM, Aug 13, 2019
VOLK FIELD, Wis. (WMTV) - Nearly 1,000 boots are on the ground at Volk Field for Northern Lightning training Tuesday.

Northern Lightning runs from August 12 through the 23, and includes about 20 active-duty units from the Air Force, National Guard, Navy and Marine Corps.

This comes after a proposal to base F-35 fighter jets at Truax air field in Madison. That plan has not been finalized.

The military says the tactical-level training tries to replicate today's air battle space. Some of the military planes used in the training include the F-35, F-22, F-16, EA-18 and C-130.

"They've got a large overland airspace where they can put down simulated surface air threats that we can train against as well as have a lot of pre-planned actual threats like tanks,” says Zachary Clements, Flight Commander of the 58th Squadron.

The F-35 in particular, a 5th-generation stealth aircraft, compared to the aging F-16 - is a big upgrade.

"It takes all the different sensors around the aircraft combines those in a single picture then displays it on a touch screen,” Clements says.
User avatar


Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 401
  • Joined: 13 Jul 2015, 16:07

Unread post26 Aug 2019, 15:42

20 enemy aircraft !?!? :shock: Too many...!! :doh:
https://www.eglin.af.mil/News/Article-D ... lightning/
Student pilots train in Northern Lightning
By Airman 1st Class Heather Leveille, 33rd Fighter Wing / Published August 26, 2019
Student pilots from the 33rd Fighter Wing took their training on the road during joint force training exercise Northern Lightning here Aug. 12-23.

The goal of their involvement was to integrate fourth and fifth generation fighters, according to Capt. Emily Thompson, 33rd FW student pilot.

Northern Lightning is a joint training exercise between the Air Force, Air National Guard, Navy and Marine Corps, that tests fourth and fifth generation weapons platforms.

“The exercise is focused on air-to-surface integration and how our tactics work together with each other’s platforms to get the best results,” said Thompson.

Large scale exercises combined with joint forces can bring a unique training element for pilots at all skill levels.

“We are focusing on getting large force experience with F-35s," said Capt. Mitchell McKenzie, 33rd FW F-35A Lightning II student pilot. “The exercise we are here for is to build combat experience, because the more large-force exercises you have under your belt, the more likely you are to survive in a real combat scenario.”

The students at the 33rd FW are seasoned pilots making the jump to the fifth-generation stealth fighter. The wing’s flying training program helps pilots transition from one fighter jet to the next, based on skill level and flight hours.

“I am a part of the transition course at Eglin learning how to fly F-35,” said Thompson, who transitions from the F-16 to the F-35.

Joint training exercises allow pilots to work with many moving parts as well as a variety of aircraft.

“[The students] are here to build experience in the early stages of the program so that we can see what it looks like to have 20 enemy aircraft coming at you instead of the five or six we can normally get on a training basis back at home station,” said McKenzie.

Instructors try to give each class an opportunity to train in large scale exercises like Northern Lightning to enhance and help develop skill sets.

“The exercise gets you out of your comfort zone,” said McKenzie. “You fly so much at home you get comfy there, so it’s good to pack up and move, go to a new, unfamiliar place with unfamiliar procedures to help build your experience and confidence.”

The training and drive to be better than a peer can help bridge the confidence of working with different branches in the real-life combat settings.

“I feel I have gained a better understanding of how to work with other platforms,” said Thompson. “Any sort of integration training is a benefit to anyone’s growth as a pilot.”

The pilots from various platforms and branches worked together to combat adversary aircraft, electronic jamming and simulated surface-to-air threats.

“The mission is more complex,” said McKenzie. “More people to talk to on the radio and more agencies to check in with and it’s all to help simulate real-life combat.”
User avatar


Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2733
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2017, 14:29

Unread post28 Aug 2019, 18:17

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:
I'm saying that even when Forth Gen came out there were lopsided victories against third gen.

That's basically one of the main if not the main point of the reasoning behind most of my posts here in the F-35 forum:

- Everytime that a new generation comes up it will simply obliterate the older/previous generation, period! (see my signature below)
And this isn't/wasn't limited to the 5th versus 4th/4.5th gen.

So I find puzzling and amazing at the same time when I see/watch/read some people posting as if a 4th or 4.5th gen fighter aircraft could have any chance of parity when facing the F-35 (or the other 5th gen fighter aircraft, the F-22) - This is like saying that a Gloster Gladiator could have a chance of parity when facing a Spitfire :doh:
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
User avatar


Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 24643
  • Joined: 05 May 2009, 21:31
  • Location: ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Warnings: -2

Unread post30 Aug 2019, 02:40

Lots of text at jump to video URL (repeat from an off-topic thread) + https://www.acc.af.mil/About-Us/Female-Aviators/

Meet Female F-35A Fighter Pilot Student at Northern Lightning Exercise 19-2: Capt. Emily Thompson

A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
User avatar


Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 401
  • Joined: 13 Jul 2015, 16:07

Unread post30 Nov 2019, 19:18

I found a long article on Northern Lightning 2019, so I post it. 8)
http://www.pixelsnipers.com/project/usa ... ning-2019/
Exercise Northern Lightning 2019
The goal of the United States Air Force (USAF)is to have an effective fighting force of 5th generation stealthy, hyper-situation-aware data-linked fighters. With the strength in numbers of the Lockheed F-22A Raptors as it stands today, and delays in the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II program, and given the taskings of the various deployments going on world-wide, the US Air Force is forced to come up with a synergistic approach between the 4th and the 5th generation fighters it wields at this place in time. The USAF is increasing its 5th generation combat aircraft footprint with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter while filling the gaps with fourth-generation aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper, Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt, and Boeing F-15C/E Eagle/Strike-Eagle making up the workhorses of the fleet. Interoperation between the 5th generation aircraft and 4th generation aircraft is therefore an essential need, and training for that is an absolute mandatory requirement for effective success in any conflict. The focus of this year's second edition of Exercise Northern Lightning was just that.

Exercise Northern Lightning is conducted twice every year at Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin. The exercise began on August 12, 2019 and scheduled to run till August 23, 2019. Colonel David May, who is the commander of Volk Field, gave some historical background of the exercise. “This is our 21st Northern Lightning exercise, having started in 2003. The exercise has grown significantly in size since 2015 to its current shape that you see here today. Volk Field is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year as well - sixty five years ago this portion of the field became a field training site for the Air National Guard. And back then, like now, the most advanced fighter aircraft of the US Air Force and Air National Guard were training here for any security challenges they might face overseas. Fast forward to 2019, and still the most advanced fighter aircraft that our nation have, are training jointly mixing active Guard and Reserve components again, preparing for the security challenges that are present today. And Volk Field is uniquely qualified to do that. We think of ourselves as a national treasure, but when you combine our facilities, our people, our technology, our range, our airspace, what you have is the Air National Guard’s premier counter-land training facility.

The main objective of the exercise was to provide tactical level joint training for the US Air Force, Navy and Marines, with a focus on objectives defined by the participating units that resulted in tailored, scenario based, full spectrum, high end training. The main scenarios played out were Opposed Air Interdiction (OAI) and Close Air Support (CAS) against a highly Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) composed of relevant surface-to-air and air-to-air threats in a Contested/Degraded Operational (CDO) environment. The range of missions varied from Offensive/Defensive Counter Air (OCA/DCA), Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD/DEAD) and CAS. There were two VULs (or missions) every day with the first "go" taking off at 0930-1000 Local Time (LT) and the afternoon one around 1400LT.
The base is also known as Volk Field CRTC (Combat Readiness Training Center). What makes Volk Field CRTC, Counterland Center the ideal location to conduct the training is as Col. David May explained "Volk Field CRTC airspace is equipped with automated instrumentation that provides effective simulated threats from the ground using "threat emitters" for the different kinds of SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) systems fielded by the adversaries. This makes it ideal grounds for aircrew training for the close-air support or strike missions as well as those conducting SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) missions.

The Volk Field airspace is divided into areas called Volk East and Lightning to the east, and Volk West and Volk South in the center and Falls to the west. The blue or friendly forces assemble in the Volk East and Volk South while the enemy forces stage to the west. The Counterland Center has one SA-3 UMTE (Unmanned Modular Threat Emitter), one SA-8 UMTE, one SA-15 UMTE, and one SA-6 UMTE. These can have a fixed location per week. It also has two Joint Threat Emitters (JTEs) and one Tactical Radar Threat Generator (TRTG) that are mobile and can replicate different threats within the VUL. These systems are designed to train aircrews to survive in a combat environment by simulating the variety of Russian SAM systems and AAA threat and radar signals which interact with the aircraft's Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) to provide a realistic CDO environment. The threat emitters are spread across all the above areas that are occupied by the enemy forces.

Hardwood Range is centrally located in the air training corridor, allowing a full spectrum of target sets that support live, laser-guided and GPS-guided munitions, moving strafe, and synthetic aperture radar targets. Additionally, joint fire observers from Fort McCoy can be integrated into the exercise. The range also includes modern day city replicas as found in the conflict regions to train for urban close air support (Urban CAS) for the air crews.
Providing further details, he added, "Volk Field CRTC has a 9,000 feet runway dedicated for military aircraft, and most importantly 12,000 square miles of airspace beginning from La Crosse in the west to Oshkosh in the east. The fighters can go supersonic during combat and fly as high as 50,000 feet. We coordinate with the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) centers in Minneapolis and Chicago so combat training traffic does not interfere with the commercial air traffic. In fact, we embed some of the FAA folks with us during the exercise for additional cooperation. It also exposes them as to what and how exactly training is conducted to prepare the crews for future conflicts. We secure the airspace prior to the day's missions, and we give it back for commercial and general aviation traffic once the recoveries from each launch are completed.

This year different types of aircraft from different parts of the country deployed to Volk Field. The United States Marine Corps (USMC) brought their F-35B Lightning IIs from VMFA-211 "Wake Island Avengers" from MCAS Yuma, Arizona. The USAF brought the F-35A from 58th Fighter Squadron "Mighty Gorillas" from Eglin AFB, Florida. Additionally, F-22A Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron "Hat in the Ring" and Northrop T-38 Talons from 71st Fighter Squadron "Ironmen" from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virgina participated in the exercise. The United States Navy (USN) was represented by Boeing EA-18G Growlers from VAQ-136 "Gauntlets" based at NAS Whidbey Island, from Washington State. The neighboring Minnesota Air National Guard had their F-16CM Vipers in Have Glass V scheme operating in the SEAD role. The F-16C Vipers from 176th Fighter Squadron of the Wisconsin Air National Guard launched and recovered from Truax Field, in Madison. Draken International had four of their Aero Vodochody L-159 Honey Badgers deployed from Nellis AFB.

The challenge today is to beef up the Red Air numbers for the 5th generation fighters. The Draken and the Talons represented the enemy air component. Sometimes to introduce variation in the scenario, a Growler or even couple of F-35s acted as the Red Air component.
Exercise Director Col. Bart “BVR” Van Roo mentioned that there were ground USAF squads that were practicing their M16 and pistol qualifications. These are members of the JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) who embed themselves with special forces and coordinate air attacks if the need arises. In a mission package, there are different aircraft taking up different roles that are needed for a successful outcome of the mission objectives. Aircraft like the F-22 Raptor are primary air supremacy aircraft, and provide domination of the skies during a strike, and provide protection from air threats to the other aircraft in the package. EA-18G Growlers from the US Navy provide SEAD/DEAD capabilities that jam enemy radars and force them to either shut down or render them incapable of detecting the friendly strike aircraft. F-16CMs specialize in DEAD – that is destruction of the enemy radar and missile sites that target the incoming strike package. F-35A from the Air Force also work with the F-22 Raptors in providing additional air support, while the F-35B from the Marines are the ones who provide interdiction/strike or close air support to friendly ground troops. This air supremacy mission is often termed as Offensive Counter Air – where the fight is taken to the enemy on their ground. Part of the subset of OCA is also SEAD and that is where the F-35A from the 58th FS worked with the fourth-generation aircraft like the F-16CM of the Duluth ANG providing them target information containing the location of enemy radars and missile sites.

On the question on this year’s focus on training for threats that are different from the previous years, Col. Van Roo explained “What we try and do is examine what the current threat scenarios are, which units are participating in the exercise, and compare that with any specific training that is lacking, and will build towards that particular scenario. Units are also tasked with new mission sets and they are also searching for trying out approaches to certain scenarios. This year we are training for both the high-end dynamic threat in the air-to-air scenarios, as well as the traditional support of the ground troops, keeping in focus the integration of 4th and 5th generation assets. The fighting in the airspace is above 10,000 feet up to 50,000 feet and training in a high-density airspace of up to 40 aircraft in the airspace. We use the scenarios to validate if the technology works in the right way, providing effective tools to the aircrews in successfully executing the mission.”

The previous year’s edition had units from the test community taking part in the exercise, for example F-35As from Edwards AFB participated as well as some of the test units from Eglin AFB. This time round it was the 58th Fighter Squadron, which is a regular training unit of the USAF, training incoming rookie pilots on the F-35A, and the pilots taking part in the exercise were Instructor pilots (IPs) from the unit. The reason for having test units be a part of the exercise is for them to test and validate how the new avionics software works in complex combat scenarios and for them to take feedback to the vendor on making it effective by improving or ironing out bugs in the software suite.
Capt. Zachary “Lips” Clements from the 58th FS flying the F-35As gave his perspective on what missions they were flying in the exercise, “We flew up here to integrate with 4th and 5th generation fighters and train for advanced surface-to-air threats which Volk Field Training Complex allows us to do. We are mainly flying Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and we normally fly a subset of that which is SEAD/DEAD mission set. It is the primary mission set of the 179th Fighter Squadron of the Duluth ANG flying the 4th generation F-16CMs and gives us a great opportunity to integrate the two generations in that particular mission set, and come up with a synergistic approach to deal with surface-to-air threats. ”

Commenting on the different versions of the Marine F-35Bs which are of the newer Block compared to the F-35A of the US Air Force, Lips explained, “We fly the one of the oldest F-35s that were made. So right now, at this exercise we have about six of the older F-35As which are upgraded and six that are not. The latter non-upgraded ones do present a challenge from a inter-connectivity aspect with the upgraded ones. All the upgraded jets communicate fine with the B model F-35s of the Marines out there and any other F-35 running a 30PO3 software, so there are no inherent limitations with the older jets that have been upgraded. And all of our jets are fragged to be upgraded.” Speaking on the limitations of the older jet, Lips mentioned “The F-35-to-F-35 data link is not compatible so the old ones are not compatible with the new ones from a data sharing aspect. The newer software also has much more advanced finding and fixing capabilities than the older software, to the point that the older jets do not have the full capability as the newer F-35s. The upgraded ones have the baseline capability of what you can expect from a combat coded F-35.”

Capt. Clements himself came from the SEAD F-16CM units from Misawa AB in Japan and is well-versed in the realm of SEAD/DEAD. Speaking on the SEAD capabilities, he said “We are a training unit and train pilots who are transitioning over to the F-35, as well as the new pilots graduating from flight training into operational units. We train everybody on the F-35 mission set and right now there are several F-35 bases there and coming up as well, but none of them is geared to specialize in SEAD and DEAD only. They practice all the mission sets of the F-35. Specifically, in this exercise we are practicing the SEAD mission set. The reason why we chose to come to Volk Field is because the training complex has an extensive layout of surface-to-air threat replicator systems, that are fairly expensive to get and train with, and also the fact that there are different airframes acting as adversaries, so we are here to train for those scenarios as well. We use a mixture of bombs, stealth and electronic attack in our SEAD mission set. We use the stealth capabilities to approach close enough to the surface-to-air threats and drop bombs and other precision-guided munition, and also augment that with electronic attack. The F-35 does have more advanced non-kinetic capabilities against the surface-to-air threats than the Block 50s (referring to the F-16CMs), and the F-35 has alternate weapons to drop on the SAM site if required. We integrated with the Block 50s of the Duluth ANG when it came to taking out the threat since the Block 50 has a reactive kinetic suppression weapon than we do, so they can actually shoot the AGM-88 HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) at a surface-to-air threat.”

Currently the Fighter Weapons School has a course in it called “Fighter Integration” where tactics are practiced and refined using the 4th and 5th generation aircraft. Looking into the future, Exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field is evolving to be an essential piece in the training field to bring all the arms of the armed forces - Air Force, National Guard, Navy, Marines - together and do joint training outside of Nellis AFB, given the fact that it has an instrumented range, with mobile SAMs and model cities for Urban CAS - all the necessary pieces of the modern day battlefield puzzle.
Many thanks to the personnel of the Public Affairs of 115th FW/Wisconsin ANG, Col. David May, Col. Bart Van Roo, and Maj. Matt Wunderlin for their support and access throughout the exercise.

Loooooong!! :doh:

Return to F-35 Variants and Missions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests