Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18

Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18

U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas DeWulf, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, waits as Airman 1st Class Mnason Mikesell, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, conducts preflight inspections during VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. The 35th Fighter Wing relocated more than 280 personnel and 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons to further enhance the wing’s ‘fight tonight’ capability during the annual exercise held across the Korean Peninsula. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ricardo Arzadon, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics journeyman, stands outside a hardened aircraft shelter during VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. More than 280 personnel relocated to Osan AB for the annually held exercise, further enhancing the region’s joint and bilateral readiness among sister services and Indo-Asia-Pacific allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Nicholas Ward, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance cell boss, walks down the flight line during VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 5, 2017. The responsibilities of a cell boss include ensuring his personnel, six F-16s and everything that comes along with quality of life and maintenance issues are top-notch for mission success. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18

U.S. Air Force Capt. Brittany Trimble, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, waits to taxi out of a hardened aircraft shelter during VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 4, 2017. More than 280 personnel relocated to Osan AB for the annually held exercise, further enhancing the region’s joint and bilateral readiness among sister services and Indo-Asia- Pacific allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Airmen receive prime training during VIGILANT ACE 18

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller, the 13th Fighter Squadron commander, throws up the “Panther Claw” during an in-processing brief during VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 2, 2017. VIGILANT ACE 18 tests the abilities of 35th Fighter Wing pilots, maintainers and other supporting agencies to exercise rapid regional response within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and sustain operations away from home station. VIGILANT ACE 18 is an annual flying exercise encompassing more than 12,000 personnel on the Korean Peninsula. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Under layers of mission-oriented protective posture gear, the bitter wind pierces the faces of 35th Maintenance Group personnel while they grasp tools underneath the belly of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

“It’s pure chaos, something we don’t see at Misawa,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Ward, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance cell boss, regarding the work tempo and training during VIGILANT ACE 18, an annual flying exercise held at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

“Our goal during this exercise is to fly with everything we have with as few hiccups possible along the way,” added Ward.

As a cell boss, his responsibilities include ensuring his personnel, six F-16s and everything that comes along with quality of life and maintenance issues are top-notch for mission success.

With over triple the flying hours and a more intense work environment occurring during VIGILANT ACE 18 versus daily sorties conducted at Misawa AB, younger Airmen, especially, have the opportunity to see a different side of their routine.

“Being in South Korea for the first time is a great opportunity to experience a faster paced environment and get quality training,” said Airman Nathaniel Devinger, a 35th AMXS weapon load crew member. “Even though we are out here in the cold and staying in tents, this is potentially how it would be if we are called upon during a real-world scenario.”

VIGILANT ACE 18 tests the 35th Fighter Wing’s readiness ability to uproot from home station and sustain operations in a contingency environment. The exercise also affirms the strong alliance with Indo-Asia-Pacific allies and increases the interoperability and flexibility the 35th Fighter Wing has within the region.

“Participating in VIGILANT ACE 18 gives younger Airmen a chance to see true chaos and challenges them to find a solution when everything doesn’t fall into place,” concluded Ward.