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97th AMW partners with NORAD for training exercise

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker during an air defense exercise, Oct. 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker during an air defense exercise, Oct. 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Representing the 97th AMW was a KC-135 Stratotanker crew. Throughout the exercise, the crew communicated with and refueled two F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing at Vermont Air National Guard Base, Vt., and the 140th Fighter Wing at Buckley AFB, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ethan Cross (left), and U.S. Air Force Capt. Nick Flaute, KC-135 Stratotanker pilots assigned to the 54th Air Refueling Squadron, taxi out to the runway during an air defense exercise, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ethan Cross (left), and U.S. Air Force Capt. Nick Flaute, KC-135 Stratotanker pilots assigned to the 54th Air Refueling Squadron, taxi out to the runway during an air defense exercise, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. For the first time, the 97th Air Mobility Wing partnered with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for a simulated air defense training exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker after exercise completion, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker after exercise completion, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The two F-16’s flew with the KC-135, safely escorting the tanker until the exercise was complete, concluding with the refueling of the Falcons, something that the Mighty 97th does not experience every day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

Airmen assigned to the 97th Inspector General Team participate in an air defense exercise after the KC-135 Stratotanker landed, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Airmen assigned to the 97th Inspector General Team participate in an air defense exercise after the KC-135 Stratotanker landed, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. With hard work and focus, the Mighty 97th successfully completed realistic training, preparing Airmen warriors for tomorrow’s challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

Two defenders assigned to the 97th Security Forces Squadron complete an inspection around a KC-135 Stratotanker after an air defense exercise, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

Two defenders assigned to the 97th Security Forces Squadron complete an inspection around a KC-135 Stratotanker after an air defense exercise, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The purpose of this exercise was to practice, refresh and test the abilities of Warrior Airmen in possible real-world emergencies along with gaining training experience that is not commonly available at Altus AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker as part of an air defense exercise, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker as part of an air defense exercise, October 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Training like this is essential in evaluating the military and Department of Defense’s response actions to an aircraft incident and to prepare in the most realistic manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

For the first time, the 97th Air Mobility Wing supported a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) air defense exercise, Oct. 9, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

The purpose of this exercise was to practice, refresh and test the abilities of warrior Airmen in possible real-world emergencies along with equipping Airmen with the training experience not commonly available at Altus AFB.

“Training like this is important because we get to exercise our capabilities with multiple agencies across MAJCOMs (Major Command). We are also given the opportunity to test our procedures driven by our guidance and regulations,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Smith, the 97th AMW Inspector General Team superintendent. “This exercise provided some real-world scenarios for our aircrew and allowed them to interact with other aircraft, just as they would during real-world events.”

Representing the 97th AMW was a KC-135 Stratotanker flown by the 54th Air Refueling Squadron. Throughout the exercise, the crew communicated with and refueled two F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing at Vermont Air National Guard Base, Vt., and the 140th Fighter Wing at Buckley AFB, Colo.

The two F-16s flew with the KC-135, safely escorting the tanker until the exercise was complete, concluding with the refueling of the Falcons, something that the Mighty 97th does not experience every day. Training like this is essential in evaluating the military and Department of Defense’s response actions to an aircraft incident in the most realistic manner.

“Any type of exercise is critical in that it tests and validates crucial capabilities base-wide,” said U.S. Air Force Maj Trenton Palmer the 97th AMW IGI director of inspections. “This particular exercise allowed us to participate with outside agencies in order to test the air defense capabilities of the Western Air Defense Sector. In the event of any real-world scenario, it gives our personnel a level of training to fall back on in order to implement situationally-correct procedures.”

The exercise served as a critical opportunity for hands-on learning in emergency response while strengthening the lethality of the Air force. With hard work and focus, the Mighty 97th successfully completed realistic training, preparing Airmen warriors for tomorrow’s challenges.