It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… well, actually it’s a plane. Civilians in Juneau and surrounding counties can expect to hear and see more aircraft activity than usual from Aug. 12-23, as Volk Field near Camp Douglas holds the second Northern Lightning exercise of 2019.
The base is hosting aircraft and about 1,000 people from active duty Air Force, National Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps units for the exercise, which includes F-35, F-22, F-16, EA-18, and C-130 aircraft.
“Northern Lightning is a tactical level, joint training exercise replicating today’s air battle space with current and future weapons platforms,” said Capt. Joe Trovato of the Wisconsin National Guard.
Participating in the exercise are the 115th Fighter Wing from Madison, the 123rd Air Control Squadron from Blue Ash, Ohio; the 58th Fighter Squadron from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; the 182nd Airlift Wing from Peoria, Illinois; the 179th Fighter Squadron from Duluth, Minnesota; the 27th Fighter Squadron from Langley, Virginia; Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 and Marine Air Control Squadron 1 from Yuma, Arizona; the 147 Air Support Operations Squadron from Ellington Field, Texas; and the 269th Combat Communications Squadron from Springfield Air National Guard Base, Ohio.
The exercises are intended to improve communication and planning between the separate branches of the military while simulating realistic combat.
“We look forward to another successful Northern Lightning exercise,” said Col. David May, Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center Commander. “Our reputation as the premiere counterland training site, due to relevant training and our ability to blend the live and synthetic domain, has set us up to host an Air Force and Marine F-35 squadron along with dedicated adversary aircraft. They will integrate with the F-22, fourth-generation aircraft and ground forces to prepare our military for the next generation of warfare.”
According to a release from Vaughn Larson of the Department of Military Affairs, the first version of Northern Lightning in May 2019 saw “350 sorties flown, 400 bombs dropped, and approximately 3,000 ground control tasks were executed at Volk Field, Hardwood Range and Fort McCoy.”
Controversy has surrounded the F-35 planes in Wisconsin after a draft report compiled by the United States Air Force and National Guard Bureau revealed that more than 1,000 residences near Truax Field in Madison could reach decibel levels unsuitable for residential use once F-35s are based in the area. The Air Force announced plans to bring the F-35 to Madison for use by the Wisconsin Air National Guard 115th Fighter Wing in December 2017.