Volk Field to host 50 aircraft, 1,000 service members for Northern Lightning training

Don't be alarmed if you hear some sonic booms
Volk Plane Second
The annual Northern Lightning Counterland training exercise Aug. 10-21 at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wis., will feature abouit 50 different types of aircraft. (Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo)

CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. — The Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center will host about 50 aircraft and nearly 1,000 service members during the annual Northern Lightning Counterland training exercise Aug. 10-21.
Units from as close as the backyard in Wisconsin and neighboring Minnesota, as well as far-flung states such as California, Idaho, New York, Vermont and Virginia, will participate. Military branches to be represented include the National Guard, Air Force, Army and Navy.
Volk PlanesNorthern Lightning began in the early 2000s and expanded into a large-scale exercise in 2015. It became a biannual exercise in 2018 and 2019, and returned to an annual exercise this year.
The exercise presents tactical-level, joint training drills with current and future weapons platforms. A variety of the world’s most advanced aircraft, including fifth-generation aircraft such as the F-35, will participate in the exercise.
Volk Field CRTC is one of the premier training installations in the country because of its expansive airspace and the quality of the training it can simulate.
Northern Lightning — one of seven Air National Guard joint accredited exercises that take place at a Combat Readiness Training Center — is regarded now as a world-class exercise.
“This exercise will focus on offensive counter-air with simulated surface-to-air attacks and the integration of multiple air platforms,” said Col. Bart Van Roo, who directs the exercise. “Training in this manner is essential for readiness and enhancing partnerships.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitated some changes to the annual exercise’s structure, but the training will be invaluable, Van Roo said.
“Though we still have more than 50 aircraft and approximately 1,000 personnel participating, far fewer will be staging out of Volk Field in order to mitigate public health risks,” he said.
Pilots and air crews participating in Northern Lightning can expect to operate in a contested environment with adversary aircraft, electronic jamming and simulated surface-to-air threats to build readiness for the threats and missions the nation faces.
The general public can expect to see an increase in aircraft activity in and around the Camp Douglas area and in the skies over Central Wisconsin during the 11-day period.
The drills might include supersonic travel, within FAA and military guidelines, so people in a 55-by-200 mile space around the field, may hear sonic booms between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during weekdays, Van Roo said.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as it is a necessary part of preparation for actual combat,” he said.
Residents of the following counties can anticipate increased military flight operations in the airspace: Adams, Brown, Calumet, Clark, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Jackson, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Outagamie, Portage, Sauk, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Waupaca, Winnebago and Wood.