Multinational RED FLAG-Alaska exercise ends

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Derek Seifert
  • 673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Pacific Air Forces-directed exercise, Red Flag-Alaska (RF-A) 24-1, which had units and aircraft from the Italian Air Force, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy participating, concluded May 3.

RED FLAG-Alaska utilizes the vast Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex to provide each aircrew member with their first 10 combat sorties and enable U.S. and international partners to work together for any future contingency.

“RED FLAG-Alaska is designed to provide combat aviators with the experience of seeing all the fog and friction of combat before they actually have to go do it,” said U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Lloyd Wright, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander. “We try to simulate, in a combat-representative way, scenarios that they are going to see in the real world as closely as we can. We incorporate surface-to-air and air-to-air threats, as well as complex scenarios requiring integration, planning and deeper thought than what they would get at home in day-to-day training.”

For the aircrews participating in RF-A 24-1, gaining perspective outside of their normal training evolutions at their home station is a key takeaway in becoming better aviators.

“Perspective is the big thing from my view,” said Wright. “The ability to integrate, learn what other platforms, what other nations, and what other communities do and are capable of and how to better integrate with them to make a cohesive mission go forward. The scope and scale is something they can't get at home. At home, they would be fighting a 4vs4 [four versus four aerial fight], while here they face 28vs20 [28 versus 20 aerial fight].”

While at RF-A, aircrews can expect longer sorties with airborne command and control and learning or perfecting air-to-air refueling. They also face a robust simulated air defense system with surface-to-air missiles, an opposing force that replicates adversary air that provides realistic air threats, as well as complex scenarios that integrate all those parts together.

The JPARC, at 77,000 square miles, is the largest overland training range in the Department of Defense and provides RF-A participants a vast training area with extensive possibilities of scenarios and allows pilots and aircrews to master their skillsets.

“The JPARC is a national treasure,” said Wright. “The sheer size of the JPARC makes it an invaluable training environment.The differences in terrain allow for different ingress pictures and threat pictures from the red air. The size and openness of the air space allows us to do some world-class training, we can do full tactics without being constrained by altitude or maneuvering limitations.”

RF-A allows U.S. forces and partner nations to train, develop and learn tactics, techniques and procedures in the case a contingency happens, and day one of the fight is not the first time they are working together.

“It’s no secret that we can't fight alone,” said Wright. “The United States is quite powerful, but our friends and partner nations are invaluable in any future conflicts. We are coalition builders and that is one of our greatest strengths. This is one of the ways that we synchronize so it's not a foreign concept the first time we fight alongside our allies – we know what they can do, and they know what we can do.”

Wright emphasized that not only is RF-A for aircrews to train, but the two-week exercise wouldn’t be possible without all the support from the rest of the team.

“I just want to give a shout out to the maintainers, the logistics folks, the supply people and everyone in the background who allowed all of the sorties to successfully launch out and get the world class training that we got for our aircrews and getting everyone ready to go. None of that would happen without everyone back here supporting the mission.”