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RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 kicks off, draws 5th generation crowd

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron, takes off during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 20-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. RF-A gives aviators an opportunity to hone skills required in combat by providing training scenarios designed to replicate near-peer adversary tactics, techniques and procedures in a controlled environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron, takes off during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 20-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. RF-A gives aviators an opportunity to hone skills required in combat by providing training scenarios designed to replicate near-peer adversary tactics, techniques and procedures in a controlled environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi on the flight line during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 20-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. RF-A provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large-force employment training in a simulated combat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi on the flight line during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 20-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. RF-A provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large-force employment training in a simulated combat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Devin Duhon, a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35A Lightning II crew chief, and Cody Frazier, a 354th AMXS avionics journeyman, render a salute to Maj. Jonathan Bucey, a 356th Fighter Squadron F-35 pilot, during RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. The 354th Maintenance Group provides aircraft and munitions maintenance support to the 354th Fighter Wing's F-35A Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Devin Duhon, a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35A Lightning II crew chief, and Cody Frazier, a 354th AMXS avionics journeyman, render a salute to Maj. Jonathan Bucey, a 356th Fighter Squadron F-35 pilot, during RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. The 354th Maintenance Group provides aircraft and munitions maintenance support to the 354th Fighter Wing's F-35A Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jonathan Bucey, a 356th Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot, conducts preflight checks before takeoff during RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. RED FLAG-Alaska gives aviators an opportunity to hone skills required in combat by providing training scenarios designed to replicate near-peer adversary tactics, techniques and procedures in a controlled environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jonathan Bucey, a 356th Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot, conducts preflight checks before takeoff during RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. RED FLAG-Alaska gives aviators an opportunity to hone skills required in combat by providing training scenarios designed to replicate near-peer adversary tactics, techniques and procedures in a controlled environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kevin Smith, a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35A Lightning II crew chief, renders a salute to a 356th Fighter Squadron F-35A pilot before taxiing to the runway during RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. The 354th Maintenance Group’s aircraft maintenance unit is composed of crew chiefs, weapons loaders, various systems specialists, inspectors, support personnel and production leaders who are tasked to deploy and generate adversary aerospace power anytime and anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kevin Smith, a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35A Lightning II crew chief, renders a salute to a 356th Fighter Squadron F-35A pilot before taxiing to the runway during RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3 on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. The 354th Maintenance Group’s aircraft maintenance unit is composed of crew chiefs, weapons loaders, various systems specialists, inspectors, support personnel and production leaders who are tasked to deploy and generate adversary aerospace power anytime and anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes off during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 20-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. All RF-A exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex over Alaska as well as a portion of Western Canadian airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes off during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 20-3 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2020. All RF-A exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex over Alaska as well as a portion of Western Canadian airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

 

RED FLAG-Alaska 20-3, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise designed to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment, began today and is slated to run until Aug. 14.

 

The 18th Aggressor Squadron and its F-16 Fighting Falcons will be playing the bad guys, also known as ‘Red Air’, during air-to-air scenarios with the new F-35A Lightning II also joining the home team. Most of the participating aircraft are based out of Eielson AFB and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, however, this year will also include flying operations originating from other bases around the Air Force.

 

“This is the first large-force exercise since this pandemic began,” said Lt. Col. Randy Kinsey, the 18th Aggressor Squadron commander. “We have to start somewhere, so why not here on a little bit smaller scale.”

 

RED FLAG-Alaska serves as an ideal platform for international engagement, and the exercise has a long history of including allies and partners, ultimately enabling all involved to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures while improving interoperability.

 

“This will be the first RF-A 20-3 with F-35s participating,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Hunger, the 353rd Combat Training Squadron commander. “In addition to that, this will be the first time the 356th Fighter Squadron will participate with their F-35s.”

 

RED FLAG-Alaska is always held at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and provides a realistic training environment, allowing Airmen to train for full-spectrum engagements ranging from individual skills to complex, large-scale joint engagements. The JPARC offers various training opportunities on all fronts; land, air, space and cyberspace.

 

“The great benefit of the airspace here is that we are able to have almost 77,000 square miles of exercise airspace and we will utilize all of it,” Hunger said.

 

The exercise allows the U.S. Air Force and its allies to become a more effective fighting force in the Indo-Pacific region.

 

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year’s RF-A will look a little different with extra precautions put into place to protect Airmen and the Fairbanks North Star Borough. 

 

“Our visiting RF-A 20-3 personnel are prohibited from leaving base for the first 14 days of their stay in Alaska and will only have very limited to no interactions with our base population, which will help to protect our community as well as our base,” said Maj. Karen Rupp, 354th Medical Group chief of Aerospace Medicine. “After the first 14 days, if the Airmen have no symptoms, they will be allowed off base and will follow Eielson AFB guidance and directives regarding allowable activities on and off base.”