Some residents of northwest Iowa are seeing lots of activity in the sky as the Iowa Air National Guard conducts a training exercise called “Operation Badger Denial.” The exercise is designed to test the “joint reconnaissance” of planes tracking the movement of people and vehicles on the ground and the way the planes provide close ground support, according to Iowa Guard spokesman, Colonel Greg Hapgood.

Hapgood says F-16’s from the 132nd air wing in Des Moines and the tankers from the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City are taking part in the exercise along with some other guard units. He says they usually have marked military vehicles on the ground and the airplanes can fly as low as 2,500 feet above the ground, so people in the area will definitely see and hear them. Hapgood says civilians on the ground don’t have to worry about dodging any bullets during the exercise.

“During the course of this exercise, the aircraft won’t drop any ordinance or any practice rounds whatsoever, so you’ll just see the aircraft at a lower level, and hear them as well,” Hapgood said. Hapgood says they’ll operate in a set corridor. He says it’s an area roughly from Carroll west to Charter Oak, then north to Sanborn, then east to Whittemore, then southwest to Carroll.

In that area they will operate at much lower altitudes than normal and allow them to conduct realistic training. The planes may be flying as late at nine o’clock. The operation began this week and the training will continue at various times through December.