July 6, 2015
ATAC recently supported Exercise NORTHERN EDGE 2015 from Joint Base Elmendorf – Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska from 9 JUN – 27 JUN. Exercise NORTHERN EDGE is Alaska's premier military joint training exercise, including over 150 aircraft and multiple ships at sea. This year's exercise focused on advanced employment of US tactics as well as the research and development of cutting edge technologies in a robust threat environment.
Alaskan Command's (ALCOM) expansive training ranges facilitated the exercise to be conducted in the most realistic environment possible. NORTHERN EDGE operations were conducted within the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, which includes more than 60,000 square miles (155,399.29 square kilometers) of air space, and the Gulf of Alaska, which encompasses 50,000 square miles (129,499.40 square kilometers) of air and sea space. The vast range expanses allowed friendly and simulated enemy forces (including ATAC) to perform their mission relatively unconstrained, most closely simulating actual combat.
ATAC's support for NORTHERN EDGE was challenged on several fronts, but the ATAC team performed flawlessly. ATAC's maintenance and pilot cadres put in long hours supporting the aggressive flying schedule. Buoyed by almost twenty hours of sunlight daily, ATAC's personnel often had to keep a close eye on maintenance and pilot crew days as it was extremely easy to lose track of how late in the day it became. As always though, ATAC's maintenance professionals performed flawlessly, resolving several challenging and time-constrained discrepancies.
The ATAC team's hard work paid off as the detachment flew over 160 hours and 90 sorties in just twelve fly days. West Coast Deputy Director of Operations, Kurt McClung summed up the detachment by saying, "We received unbelievably positive reviews from our Air Force and Navy brethren. As usual, the ATAC maintenance professionals did a fantastic job keeping the jets up." ATAC's support to NORTHERN EDGE 2015 was yet another example of why ATAC is the best in the business of training today's warfighters for tomorrow's challenges.