58th Fighter Squadron performs Exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field > Air Education and Training Command > Article Display

Nomads from the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. participated in Exercise Northern Lightning Aug. 8-19.

Northern Lightning is a joint training exercise that replicates today’s air combat space where Nomad worked to enhance agile combat employment and build combat-credible Airmen.

The Nomads remained in Volk for about four weeks while they conducted offsite training and participated in the exercise.

“Of our four weeks here, two weeks are exercise; the other two weeks are spent on program flight training,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Anthony Ortiz, an instructor pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB. “We do everything from basic flight maneuvers, or dogfights, to tactical interceptions.”

During the exercise, Nomads integrated with 4th and 5th generation assets from the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps and US Air National Guard.

“Northern Lightning, or any exercise, is essential for us to learn to work together, to plan missions together, to fly together, to see strengths and weaknesses and to be able to exploit that of the adversary,” Ortiz said. “Interoperability is a huge thing for the Air Force and the Joint Army, so working with them and learning to do tactics with them is a great training opportunity.”

The importance of training was recognized throughout the 33rd FW.

“When you’re in a deployment location, you don’t know who you’re going to be working with,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Deonte Spann, superintendent of F-35 production with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB. “So knowing how other branches and units operate prepares you for the future.”

The 58th AMU supported the 58th FS as they conducted the training exercise.

“We’re here to fix all the planes for the pilots,” Spann said. “We are here to make sure we have safe and reliable aircraft and we are here to make the mission happen.”

The 58th FS and 58th AMU working together alongside other units helped produce a unique training experience for student pilots.

“We fly 16 jets a day, fly long trips, and refuel and fly tankers, which our students couldn’t do,” Ortiz said. “The incredible flying opportunities and working with the other four or five units has been great for our students.”

Spann believes the 58th AMU and 58th FS have the capabilities and expertise to successfully accomplish the mission anywhere.

“You can take the 58th FS anywhere and we’ll make the mission happen,” Spann said.

Exercise Northern Lightning 2022 provided more than just training for Nomads and Wisconsin ANG units.

“I want to thank the State of Wisconsin for hosting us and the National Guard Bureau,” Ortiz said. “The F-35s are coming to Madison very soon, so for us to be able to test the airspace, the range and all the facilities, it’s a huge win for the Eglin team, for the state of Wisconsin, for the United States and the Air Force as a whole.

Robert M. Larson