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CONR-1AF wraps up Arctic air defense exercise AMALGAM DART

  • Published

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Members from the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s continental U.S. Region honed their Homeland Defense skills and garnered air defense experience while operating in arctic conditions during air defense exercise Amalgam Dart 21-01, held June 10-18.  

“Amalgam Dart 21-1 further strengthens Canada and the Unites States’ resolve to defend North America from the most northern approaches,” said Maj. Gen. Derek Joyce, deputy commander, CONR. “Rigorous and continuous training in arctic environments also prepares NORAD allied warfighters the ability to defend forward in the Arctic.

This is the second Amalgam Dart air defense exercise in the Arctic this year that CONR members have participated in.  American, Canadian and other allied nations coordinated air defense efforts with partners such as U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. European Command, Space Command, and NATO to enhance Arctic security.

“We had over sixty United States and Canadian aircraft and more than a thousand personnel from both countries participating,” said Canadian Maj. Gen. Derek Joyce, deputy commander, NORAD’s Continental U.S. Region. “The exercise sent a clear message that NORAD is always ready to detect, deter and defeat any and all potential air threats to North America. I am very proud of the teams’ performance.”

The exercise included fighter aircraft, ground-based air defense assets, highly-trained military personnel and the logistics to sustain the participants and assets, added Joyce.

“The magnitude and scope of this evolution of Amalgam Dart reminded me more of a Flag-scale exercise with the high-fidelity training,” said Col. Christopher Dinote, commander of First Air Force (AFNORTH)’s 41st Air Expeditionary Group, charged with managing the U.S. people and assets. “Only instead of operations taking place in a geographically concentrated area, it spanned an entire country, Canada, at multiple forward locations.”

Dinote added the exercise took place in Thule, Greenland, as well, and many more people in garrison participated in the exercise as reach-back support.

United States CONR exercise participants included the Air National Guard F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 140th Wing, Buckley Space Force Base, Colo.; 114th Fighter Wing, Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, S.D.; E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft from the 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.; KC-135 Stratotankers from the 92d Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas; KC-10 Extender from the 305th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, Ca.; Ground Based Air Defense assets and crews from the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Anderson, S. C.; and infrastructure support crews from 820th Red Horse Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; security forces personnel from the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and 265th Combat Communication Squadron from Portland Air Guard Base, Maine.

“Amalgam Dart 21-1 presented the Continental U.S. NORAD Region a valuable training opportunity to deploy assets and people from various units, Army and Air Force, to multiple locations throughout Canada and even Greenland,” said Capt. Brad Kelly, First Air Force (AFNORTH) A3X chief of contingency plans. “Thus furthering the cooperation between our two countries and honing our homeland defense skills in an arctic environment.”

Among the training initiatives successfully accomplished was the first-ever CONR “wet wing defueling” test using R-11 refueling trucks airlifted to Thule, Greenland, aboard U.S. Air Mobility Command C-17 aircraft to refuel fighter aircraft.  Wet-wing defueling usually involves aerial refueling aircraft landing at an austere or remote location, offloading fuel, then taking off with minimal time on the ground. The aircraft fuel from the C-17 wing was off loaded to a truck, which then repositioned to two U.S. F-16 aircraft to conduct fueling operations.

“The exercise went very well and provided an excellent opportunity for our Airmen to work in a deployed location to refine Agile Combat Employment processes for maturing the C-17 capability for future wet-wing defueling missions,” said Chuck Keasey, CONR-First Air Force (AFNORTH) Aircraft Maintenance Branch Chief. “Our proven ability to conduct wet-wing refueling enhances our capability to defend North American.” 

This exercise has been carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR and CANR’s rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, this bi-national exercise provided the opportunity for both regions to hone tactical intercept and hand-off skills.

NORAD remains vigilant to the continued 24-7 defense of North America. A bi-national Canadian and American command, NORAD employs a network of space-based, aerial and ground-based sensors, air-to-air refueling tankers and fighter aircraft on alert, controlled by a sophisticated command and control network to deter, detect and defend against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American airspace.

For additional imagery from exercise Amalgam Dart 21-1, visit