EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The first aircraft operating in support of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 22-3 took to the skies from the Eielson flightline early this morning. The exercise will run July 28 – Aug. 12.
RF-A 22-3, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise, is designed to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment. A series of command-directed field training exercises will provide joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support and large force employment training.
“Red Flag-Alaska is a joint international major flying exercise where we take in various squadrons from all domains of warfare from all over the world and we build a scenario where they have to integrate and fight as a team,” said Lt. Col. James Collins, 353rd Combat Training Squadron commander.
Approximately 2,200 service members are expected to fly, maintain and support more than 115 aircraft from 25 units during this iteration of the exercise. Joint and allied forces including personnel assigned to various U.S. Air Force and Department of the Navy units as well as the Royal Australian Air Force and Army will train together to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures while enhancing the combat readiness of all participating forces.
“In this iteration, it’s the first time we’ve had Marine Corps F-35s working with the RAAF’s E-7, while also integrating with Eielson Air Force Base’s own F-35s in addition to Kunsan and Kadena’s F-16s, Navy Growlers and RAAF Super Hornets,” said Collins. “Learning how to integrate with our allies and partners is one of the great things about this exercise.”
Like all RED FLAG exercises held in Alaska, RF-A 22-3 is taking place primarily in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, an expansive military operations area comprised of over 77,000 square miles of special-use airspace, ranges and military operations facilities.
“We are in a unique situation up here in Alaska,” said Collins. “The JPARC provides several hundred miles of airspace for our participants to execute their tactics and operate which simulates real world scenarios and considerations.”
Exercises under the RF-A banner have a decades-long history, proving their ability to provide unique opportunities to integrate various forces in a realistic threat environment. The exercise dates back to 1975, when it was called Exercise Cope Thunder and was held at Clark Air Base, Philippines.