509th BW and 133rd ARS Join International Partners for RF-A 23-3

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Andrew Britten
  • 673rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Throughout the first week of RED FLAG-Alaska 23-3, 20 units based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base have trained alongside each other. During this particular iteration of the exercise, a B-2 Spirit from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, also took part in the exercise over the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex. 

The bomber flew from Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, where a total of three B-2 aircraft are currently carrying out Bomber Task Force Missions. BTF missions are representative of the U.S.' extended deterrent commitment to allies and partners while enhancing regional security. They also familiarize aircrew with air bases and operations in different geographic combatant command areas of responsibility. The aim is to enable strategic access and integration with coalition forces in an effort to deter global conflict.

The New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 133rd Aerial Refueling Squadron provided AR support to the B-2 following its arrival to the JPARC on Aug. 15. The 133rd ARS operates the KC-46A Pegasus, the USAF’s newest AR platform. This aircraft is capable of providing aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner-nation receivers.

“RF-A 23-3 gives the New Hampshire Air National Guard the opportunity to plan, refuel, and employ the latest tanker missions in a simulated combat training environment,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Girouard, senior enlisted leader of the 157th Operations Support Squadron. “Refueling the B-2 with the KC-46 demonstrates how far the KC-46 program has come.”

Collaboration among the United States, arctic allies, and international partners is grounded in mutual values, the safeguarding of defense, and regional safety and security. Exercises like RF-A strengthen interoperability with international allies as well as interservice teammates. 

23-3 is the last RED FLAG-Alaska iteration of the 23 series, participants include the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force. Units from the Japan Air Self Defense Forces, Republic of Korea Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Air Force, and NATO have also participated in past iterations of this year’s exercise. 

RED FLAG-Alaska stands as a testament to the collective strength embedded within international partnerships. Through synchronized efforts and a fervent dedication to honing tactics and procedures, this exercise sets a steadfast course toward ensuring prosperous air and space endeavors for years to come.