The US Army has integrated its state-of-the-art air defense systems for the first time in Alaska during the large-scale “Arctic Edge” exercise.
The country’s MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system, AN/TWQ-1 Avenger short-range air defense (SHORAD) system, and the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar were among those that took part in the exercise that ended last week.
According to South Carolina National Guard commander Frank M. Rice, deploying the ground-based air defense systems in Alaska sends “a clear message” to adversaries considering striking the region.
“Having air defense forces in Alaska in cold weather times proves that we can do it,” he told Air Force Magazine. “It sends a message to not only our adversaries but to our allies that we are willing and capable of defending the homeland.”
Maj. Stanton Jordan with the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command revealed that his team began preparing for Arctic Edge almost two years ago.
He said that American soldiers were required to attend cold-weather training and study manuals on how to “winterize” air defense platforms.
“Throughout this exercise, we’ve learned to make sure we have the correct fuel for the systems, the correct additives so hoses don’t freeze while rotating turrets,” Jordan told Army Times.
According to Jordan, the high-powered air defense systems recently deployed in Alaska have been around a long time and used in real-world missions for many years.
However, the exercise tested the platforms in freezing weather, guaranteeing they are a “strategic asset” for the US Army.
During Arctic Edge, system operators scanned the skies and relayed the radar picture to detect aircraft and engage them with the Avenger or Patriot.
The army also focused on responding to cruise missile threats during the drills.
“This really is a demonstration of how we can use all these different operations to weave together how we support our countries to protect our nations’ interests and defend our homelands as well,” Air Force Lt. Gen. David Krumm stressed.