by Senior Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland
114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
12/8/2015 - SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- F-16
aircraft from the 175th Fighter Squadron of the South Dakota Air
National Guard participated in a Large Force Exercise (LFE) conducted
Dec. 2-3, 2015 in the newly expanded Powder River Training Complex,
For two days, the unit launched and recovered 16 aircraft from Joe Foss
Field, South Dakota, to the newly-designated Military Operations Area
(MOA) which covers 28,000 square miles and encompasses parts of four
different states. They were not alone. This LFE included various types
of aircraft to include F-16s, B-1s, and KC-135s from across the
country. Air National Guard and active Air Force units participating
included the 120th FS, Colorado Air National Guard, 185th ARW, Iowa Air
National Guard, the 28th BW, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, the 7th BW,
Dyess AFB, Texas, the 22nd ARW, McConnell AFB, Kansas, the 141st ARW,
Washington Air National Guard, and an E-3 AWACS from Tinker AFB,
The composite force exercise included training in air refueling,
air-to-air threats, ground-to-air threats, and F-16's support of B-1
"This provides our pilots a close-to-home opportunity for integrated
warfighting training over an expansive MOA that we haven't had in the
past," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Morrell, 114th Operations
Support Squadron commander.
Morrell, who has been flying the F-16 for over 14 years, went on to add
that this expanded Powder River Training Complex will be outstanding for
the many components of the military who will train at it.
"This area is over 200 miles across and affords us the opportunity to
train in a space much closer to home that is a size similar to what we
might encounter when we're not training," said Morrell.
While the Powder River Training Complex has existed for many years it
has just recently been expanded. The expansion allows for some lower
flights, longer runs, faster training flights, and more coordinated
training sequences that will feel more like actual missions. Cost
savings will also be a benefit of this expansion since the unit will not
have to travel as far to train on a MOA of this size.
"This exercise highlights the total force concept," said Col. Quenten
Esser, 175th Fighter Squadron commander. "The ability to have both
Active Duty and Reserve Component forces utilizing the expanded Powder
River Complex allows our pilots to truly 'train like we fight.' Our
pilots were able to work and train with multiple strike aircraft. These
assets provide the real world, dynamic and complex training scenarios we
need to meet our future taskings."