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Live ammunition training prepares Airmen for Red Flag

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to Misawa Air Base, Japan, participates in Distant Frontier at a range near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 16, 2017. DF training ensures proficiency in mission capabilities to prepare for real-world scenarios in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to Misawa Air Base, Japan, participates in Distant Frontier (DF) at a range near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 16, 2017. DF training ensures proficiency in mission capabilities to prepare for real-world scenarios throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Fontanilla, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons team chief, left, Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Devinger, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons craftsman, center, and Airman 1st Class Charles Arnell, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons craftsman, secure a Mark 82 munition during Distant Frontier at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 15, 2017. DF training ensures proficiency in mission capabilities to prepare for real-world scenarios in the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Araceli Alarcon

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Fontanilla, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons team chief, left, Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Devinger, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons craftsman, center, and Airman 1st Class Charles Arnell, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons craftsman, secure a Mark-82 munition during Distant Frontier (DF) at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 15, 2017. DF training ensures proficiency in mission capabilities to prepare for real-world scenarios throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Araceli Alarcon

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit inspect munitions during Distant Frontier at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 15, 2017. DF training enhances stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, deterring aggression and, when necessary, fighting to win. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit inspect munitions during Distant Frontier (DF) at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 15, 2017. DF training enhances stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, deterring aggression and, when necessary, fighting to win. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- With a backdrop of blue skies and miles of mountain ranges, Misawa maintainers and pilots walk the flight line of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, with a crucial mindset and mission in hand--fight tonight.

In efforts to prepare 35th Fighter Wing pilots and maintainers for RED FLAG and real-world scenarios, Airmen began live ammunition training during Distant Frontier, May 15 to 26.

“We take advantage of Distant Frontier as an opportunity to practice various skillsets, like low level flying, basic service attacks and close air support,” said Capt. Benjamin Walters a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “This is something we don’t get at home due to air space restrictions.”

For Misawa maintainers, specifically weapons Airmen, DF is an opportunity to work and load live ammunitions and ensure weapons systems work properly.

“Our Airmen are getting the experience of loading live weapons and doing post-load inspections for a live weapons fire,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Allshouse, the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “Our goal is to meet every sortie and never see a live weapon come back because of a maintenance malfunction.”

Honing these skills and maintaining proficiency is crucial for pilots and their maintainer counterparts throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is one way Wild Weasels promote security cooperation with allies--deterring aggression and being ready to fight tonight when called upon.

“You need to have a very inherent ability to employ ordnances and you don’t want those skills to atrophy because they are foundational to how we fly,” explains Walters. “There are a lot of things going on within the Pacific theater and we can be called on at any time to do our job; we need to be ready.”