Budget Flag

Four Air National Guard F-16 units squared off against contract A-4K Skyhawk aggressors and realistic surface-to-air threats during the large-force employment exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field, Wis., earlier this month. “The training and quality of operational test we received from flying against the A-4 aircraft was top-notch,” Arizona 162nd Fighter Wing pilot Lt. Col. Richard Wigle said in a Draken International release. “To accomplish this same operational testing with Air Force organic assets would have cost five ?times as much … This is a model that needs to be considered on a larger scale across the Air Force,” Wigle added. “Our airspace supports being able to fly interdiction missions against robust surface and air-to-air threats, get to a bombing range where they can employ ordnance, then … fight their way home,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Hansen, Volk operations director, in a release. “The units will all gain combat training to a level commensurate with a Red Flag exercise, at a very significant cost savings,” he said. F-16s and some 700 pilots, maintainers, and support personnel from the Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Arizona ANG, as well as five Draken A-4Ks, tankers, and Active Duty reconnaissance support took part in the exercise June 8-19, according to a release.