JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --
Seventy-five years ago-in 1942-the 90th Fighter Squadron, formerly known as the 90th Bombardment Squadron, operated out of Northern Territory, Australia. Fast forward to 2017 and members of the squadron returned down under; this time in a peacetime training capacity rather than a combat role.
Airmen from the 477th Fighter Group, 302nd Fighter Squadron and 90th Fighter Squadron participated in a bilateral exercise with the Royal Australian Air Force at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, Australia. They spent more than 45 days training with the RAAF as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation program.
Force Posture Initiatives like this one between the U.S. and Australia build mutual relations and operational capabilities with other nations. According to Capt. Joshua Gunderson, 90th FS C-Flight Commander, working with the Australian counterparts was seamless.
"The Australian tactics and our tactics are very similar," Gunderson said. "We were able to work and operate together to provide realistic and robust scenarios for our pilots.”
JBER’s Total Force Enterprise Airmen used their professional skills and training to execute mission after mission with our TFE and international military counterparts, creating a centrifuge of collective forces.
“The trip was a true testament to the … squadron and its personnel,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Rimer, Raptor Keeper from the 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The maintenance squadron demonstrated their flexibility and air power capability by their ability to be sent to a remote environment in another country, with limited parts, difficulty of getting supplies, and climate adjustments, and successfully complete the mission.”
The participating fighter pilots, maintainers, logistics members, security forces and combat communications Airmen made up an historic exercise force.
“Collectively, the deployed team's efforts were boundless as they were able exploit the benefits from the strengths of each component despite challenging logistical issues and they accomplished a lot of great 'firsts',” said Maj. Rebecca Daugherty, 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander. “During the trip, they also gained efficiencies that directly contributed to increased combat capabilities while partnering with the Royal Australian Air Force … I couldn't be more proud of everyone and all the hard work and dedication they demonstrated to ensure mission success.”
“Being part of the largest rotation of fifth-generation aircraft to train in Australia defiantly had its challenges,” said Technical Sgt. Michela Dahm, 477th Fighter Group Weapons System Coordinator. “I believe we were able to strengthen our relationships with our Royal Australian Air Force counterparts, as well as learn a lot for future training opportunities where our resources were limited.”
"We know them now on a personal level, and it makes it much easier to break down the barriers to get things done," Gunderson said. "We were able to crosstalk every single day, and fly on their E-7A Wedgetail to see how the crew works, to enhance the Raptors’ and the [F/A-18A/B] Hornets’ capabilities.
"During the EAC, the 90th FS was able to create tactical problems no individual aircraft type could solve on its own,” said Lt. Col. David Skalicky, 90 FS Commander. “That forced the squadrons to work together more closely than they ever have before.”
“Our mission in Australia was truly a success. Getting the opportunity to travel to a beautiful place like Australia and work side by side with our TFE partners in the 90th FS was great learning experience,” said Senior Master Sgt. Keith Long, 477 FG Munitions Flight Chief. “I have never seen so many maintainers work so hard with so little equipment and still get Aircraft off the ground. The hard working Airman of the 90th FS and 477th FG pushed the boundaries of our combat capabilities and they deserve a ton of recognition.”