March 25, 2009 (by SrA Ryan Whitney) - The 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, and associated maintenance and support personnel, completed a Guam air self defense exercise March 10-12 in the skies around Guam.
Two F-22 Raptors fly over the Pacific Ocean after a refueling mission on March 9th, 2009. The Dicemen are deployed from Elmendorf AFB to the 90th EFS Andersen AFB. Fourteen of the $140 million dollar aircraft, and more than 250 Airmen have been here since January for a three month deployment as the Pacific's Theater Security Package.
Jungle Shield is an exercise flown here providing Air Force members with invaluable training in air defense tactics, and alert and scramble procedures. These tactics and procedures are used to defend U.S. territory from airborne threats, to include potential terrorist attacks like those of Sept. 11, 2001, according to Brig. Gen. Phil Ruhlman, 36th Wing commander.
During the exercise, F-22 Raptors were scrambled and evaluated in how the pilots and support personnel reacted to various airborne threats. Throughout the three-day exercise, the Raptors and Airmen demonstrated their ability to respond to potential threats, like a hijacked airliner in the local airspace.
"As soon as we got the call from the [613th Air and Space Operations Center at Hickam Air Force Base] in Hawaii, we scrambled our aircraft within minutes and assessed the correct actions to take in certain scenarios, just like we would against a real world threat," according to Lt. Col. Christopher Niemi, 90th EFS director of operations. "When we do exercises like this, it's to make sure we are able to defend Guam airspace from threats in any situation."
The 90th EFS worked closely with the 613th AOC, which provided command and control of the air operations. The AOC is part of 13th Air Force at Hickam, and serves as the hub of all joint air and space operations outside the Korean theater in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.
"We got some good experience out of this exercise, and it allowed us to fine-tune our alert and scramble procedures," said Colonel Niemi. "It also provided our guys an opportunity to practice these situations in a location different from what we are used to, which was a great experience for us."
The 90th EFS is deployed here from Elmendorf AFB
, Alaska, as part of a regularly scheduled air and space expeditionary force rotation, demonstrating U.S. commitment to peace and stability throughout the Pacific region.
"One of Andersen's biggest takeaways was the importance in practicing these critical missions regularly, enabling us to better defend Guam from an attack like those that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001," General Ruhlman said.