EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
RED FLAG-Alaska 22-3 included more than 70 U.S. and allied aircraft executing simulated combat missions in over 77,000 square miles of training area, and with this year’s joint U.S. and Royal Australian Air Force participants, many members look forward to the growth that will come from the large force exercise.
“RF-A is an absolute necessity,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matt Belle, RF-A 22-3 deployed commander. “Our people need this training in order to uphold the credibility to maintain deterrence in the western Pacific.”
During RF-A, members share different responsibilities to include mission planning, execution and support. On top of swapping roles, all pilots and maintenance personnel do so with the challenge of operating and integrating in a staged contingency environment.
“Teamwork during RED FLAG-Alaska is critical,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brenden Felker, 80th Fighter Squadron commander. “We execute almost the same amount of flying back at home station as here. What makes RF-A unique is that it’s on a larger scale and has integration components that take more time on the front and back end of planning.”
While not always training with the same allies, service members had the opportunity to plan, operate and execute objectives with the RAAF to better enhance each other’s capabilities using fifth-generation aircraft and simulated enemy forces.
“We use our interoperability to see how we can make each other better,” said RAAF Wing Commander Scott McNichol, Task Unit 640.6.1 chief of staff. “It’s about identifying our weaknesses in each other and fixing those weaknesses for one another during RF-A.”
As RF-A 22-3 comes to a close, both U.S. and RAAF forces have shown their appreciation for each other's participation in this exercise’s iteration.
“They have brought their incredible capabilities to the fight; not just their airframes, but also their maintainers and aircrew,” said Belle. “Their technology is excellent, and their decision-making is what has impressed me the most. I’m very confident for the future of the Indo-Pacific from what I’ve seen from the RAAF.”