Ellsworth hosts Combat Raider exercise

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Hannah Malone
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Combat Raider, an exercise designed to train aircrews and supporting units for current and future contingencies through a variety of realistic combat scenarios, came to a close at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, July 23.

Thirty-four aircraft from a variety of Air Force and Air National Guard bases participated in the exercise. Training took place at the Powder River Training Complex, the largest,  dedicated military air space in the continental United States.

In addition to the B-1B Lancers assigned to the base, Ellsworth bedded down F-15 Strike Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-46 Pegasus aircraft during the exercise that ran from July 19-23. The other list of players – B-52 Stratofortress, F-35 Lightning II, E-3 Sentry, E-8 Joint Stars and RC-135 Rivet Joint – launched from their home stations to integrate with other players in a full range of operations against modern threats and replicate today’s contingency operations.

“The missions flown during Combat Raider allow the aircrew members to work together preparing and executing complex missions against both surface and air threats,” said Maj. Ryan “Willis” Jones, the 28th Operations Support Squadron chief of long range plans. “This exercise is a proving ground  for units from across the country to test their training.”


Combat Raider provided  United States forces the opportunity to apply their readiness capabilities through five real-world mission objectives including counter-air, strategic strikes, strike coordination and reconnaissance, close air support, and personnel recovery.

“The success of these aviators against simulated enemy threats is a clear example of why large force exercises are vital for preparing for future conflicts,” said Jones.
The exercise not only provided training for aircrews, but also for all agencies involved in generating sorties. Maintainers, vehicle operations, security forces  and many other Airmen played key roles to ensure Combat Raider was a success.

“We may not be flying the aircraft, turning the wrenches or loading the bombs, but we own the pride just the same,” said Master Sgt. Nicole Scharff, the  28th Operations Support Squadron tower chief controller. “These exercises help keep us on our game. Our daily task is to get the aircraft safely to their missions and safely home every day, no matter what.”

With Combat Raider 2021 now in the books, exercise planners will evaluate what was learned during the exercise and start working on Combat Raider 2022.