U.S. Air Force Shows off Arctic Power in Alaska – Message To Russia and China

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command via Flickr

While not necessarily a direct response to the recent joint Chinese-Russian bomber patrol in the Pacific, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) just performed a massive ‘Elephant Walk‘ on Friday of 30 fighter jets and two aerial refueling tankers at Eielson Air Force Base, located just 110 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

The combat readiness exercise tested the rapid response ability of every aircraft at the base. It was also done on the same day the base stood up a second squadron of F-35As.

The Pentagon is increasingly using these types of shows of force, as both China and Russia become more aggressive in intimidating U.S, allies, and friends. It is also a show of U.S. resolve and capability to protect the increasingly critical Arctic region.

In addition to the joint Chinese-Russian bomber patrol, Russian recently deployed MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptor jets to their base in Anadyr, in the Chukotka region, directly opposite Alaska.

And, in August, Russian military aircraft intimidated Bering Sea fishermen and repeatedly buzzed two American fishing vessels.

In this ‘Elephant Walk,’ 18 USAF F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters, 12 F-16C Fighting Falcon fighters, and two KC-135 Stratotankers aerial refuelers of the Alaska Air National Guard (ANG) were all pictured on the tarmac ready for takeoff. The display showed off the full lethal force of the 354th Fighter Wing and the ANG’s 168th Wing at the base, combined.

The ‘Elephant Walk’ involves a procession of aircraft taxiing in close formation right before a ‘minimum interval takeoff’ to test how quickly the fighters can take off under realistic conditions.

But is also a confidence booster for the airmen and women involved, and a show of American commitment to defend the region. Air Force Col. David Skalicky, 354th Operations Group commander said, as quoted in the Daily Mail:

The Elephant Walk isn’t only to practice our abilities to respond quickly. This is to show our Airmen who work behind the scenes what Eielson AFB is about, it’s about showing our strength in the arctic arena.

We are executing this despite Coronavirus, despite the extreme weather conditions, and despite that it’s one of the shortest days of the year.

Col. David Berkland, the 354th Fighter Wing commander added:

Every Airman across the Fighter Wing contributed to today’s event, and we proved what our team is capable of…supporting, defending, or delivering 5th generation airpower and advanced training. Stay tuned, because our combat capability will continue to grow.

The Arctic is the next arena of great military power competition, and Russia has built up a lot more infrastructure on its side, said Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska to AlaskaPublic.org, according to the Daily Mail. Sullivan added:

Without further investment in our polar capabilities, our adversaries’ influence will grow. And if that happens, we risk our ability to protect U.S. vessels conducting commerce, to enforce international law, and to defeat threats to our national security.


Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Bemused Berserker
Bemused Berserker
9 months ago

God Bless our Military! Their service and dedication is an inspiration.

william hopkins
9 months ago

. . . IF Obama had another 4 years as Phakir N’Chief, he would have devastated our military capability at a most critical time. . . Thank GOD president Trump rebuilt our military to what it is today !

Norman
Norman
9 months ago

If Biden is confirmed president, we can kiss all this readiness and future capabilities good-bye.

Floyd Hardee
9 months ago

Talk softly, but fly big bad, fast, deadly aircraft. Then whip Biden’s lying cheating butt and announce. “I am still the president and I warned you not to make deals with China. But you did, and you conspired to help steal this election in a fai9led coup. Now you will feel my full wrath on you and your businesses. Only those loyal to our country will receive favorite status. You will be shut down if you persist in exhibiting political bias towards the GOP. It is unconstitutional for you to censor, suppress, and manufacture false narratives which demeans any other political party, or to deceive the American public. The FCC will do their job, or the managers will be replaced, as will all other Government Agencies that do not represent the people, or who ignores the Constitution. This is a Republic and the people will not stand for Traitors and hooligans running the show. Big, foul mouth Actors, actresses will be prosecuted for making threats against government officials or anyone for that matter. It is time for the FBI and the DOJ to start acting like they work for us, not the mob, or our enemies! Let us hope God will aid Trump in his last ditch effort to retain the job we elected him to do. For not only his sake, but for our sake, and for the sake of freedom. Amen!


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