The USAF Elephant Walk

By Faye Higbee

Thirty fighter jets and two refueling aircraft conducted what is known as an “elephant walk” exercise. It came as Russia and China bombers did a joint patrol mission over the Western Pacific on Tuesday.

The USAF elephant walk is is a readiness exercise…and a show of strength. The 354th Fighter Wing and the 168th Wing Air National Guard both participated in the exercise, in which military aircraft taxi together in close formation. It is an exercise to test how quickly the jets can get into the skies in minimum interval takeoffs.

The joint patrol mission of Russia and China reveals the closeness of the two nations, which spells trouble ahead for the US.

The Russians have also recently deployed MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptor planes to their base in Anadyr, in the Chukotka region, directly opposite Alaska. 

The [Elephant walk] formation was captured in a series of photographs as the planes sat on the runway.

Every aircraft at Eielson AFB, located just 110 miles south of the Arctic Circle, taxied into position displaying the full airpower of the 354th FW and the 168th Wing together.

Some 18 F-35A Lightning II’s, 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons, and two KC-135 Stratotankers were all pictured on the tarmac ready for takeoff, the Daily Mail reported. 


“The Elephant Walk isn’t only to practice our abilities to respond quickly. This is to show our Airmen who work behind the scenes what Eielson AFB is about, it’s about showing our strength in the arctic arena. We are executing this despite Coronavirus, despite the extreme weather conditions, and despite that it’s one of the shortest days of the year.”

U.S. Air Force Col. David Skalicky, 354th Operations Group commander

As confrontations continue to grow, it is wise for US military officials to be wary of their claims to the Arctic, and continue to be ready for any and all scenarios. Complacency at this time is deadly.


Featured photo: USAF/ Senior Airman Keith Holcomb of fighter jets park in formation at Eielson AFB in Alaska.

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