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Ellsworth hosts annual Combat Raider training exercise

Air Force Training
Air Force Training(Aleah Burggraff)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:26 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Fly. Fight. Win.

And to get there?

Training.

“It’s a unique opportunity as a large force exercise to multiple weapon systems in the same piece of real-estate and practicing a realistic combat scenario,” said Captain Taylor Hiester of the South Dakota Air National Guard.

The annual Combat Raider Exercise at Ellsworth Air Force Base allows airmen from around the country to practice precision training in a fake war.

“So, everything is pretty much simulated since we don’t have any live ammunition out here, but what we are able to do is just use our skills both in the Strike Eagle and our integration with both the B1 a, F16, and F35′s to harness those skills, while we’re out and practice. Come back in, debrief what we can do better, what we did not so good so that we as a collation of aircraft can get better and better as we integrate together,” said Major Jason Williams of the United States Air Force.

Of course, working together takes planning and upwards of 24 hours for the radar exercise alone.

The flight crew plans the missions, everything from the administrative parts of the flight to determining targets and altitude, while aircraft maintainers and other support staff work to make sure the planes are ready for takeoff.

“I’m in charge of the inspections, making sure that everything is up to par. I help organize with the superintendent to get the actual maintenance done if there’s anything that the specialist needs to come out to do. I assist them with it if I’m here and if not, I set up the next shift to get that job accomplished,” said Sr. Airman Seth Paris of the United States Air Force.

“Thousands of people are required to get one aircraft in the air, and all of them are working hard as well getting our equipment ready and making sure that’s operational,” said Hiester.

And when it comes to air space for training, Ellsworth provides the perfect place.

“It’s a huge airfield and it also has a large piece of airspace. Hundreds of miles in width that gives us the opportunity to practice a long-range fight all the way until, perhaps, a hundred miles or great away all the moment the pilot hits the pickle button over the target area,” said Hiester.

Training will continue throughout the week and into the next.

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