Home Air Red Flag Alaska 21-2 welcomes allies after COVID-19 disruptions

Red Flag Alaska 21-2 welcomes allies after COVID-19 disruptions

KC-10 Extender refueling A-10 Thunderbolts
USAF KC-10 Extender flies above A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft during Red Flag-Alaska 19-2. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force’s Red Flag-Alaska 21-2 is in full swing starting June 10 to 25 after last year’s mini-scale and two cancellations due to the Department of Defense travel restriction and COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year, we held a US-only RF-A exercise in August, so this is our first RF-A with international participants,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Eads, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander. “Currently, there is a lot of effort focused on knocking off the rust and relearning the muscle memory that it takes to host a Large Force Exercise with international participants.”

Red Flag-Alaska 21-1 is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise designed to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment. A series of commander-directed field training exercises provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large force employment training.

The Royal Korean Air Forces will be at Eielson Air Force Base and the Japan Self-Air Defense Force will be participating at JBER.

“The real benefit to this 21-2 exercise is the coalition, collaboration, and strengthening of our bond to our close partners in the PACOM AOR [Pacific Command Area of Responsibility],” Eads said. “Visiting aircrews will be stressed and tested under safe and controlled environments to simulate their first ten combat sorties.”

Eads added the JBER based units are safely integrated into the large force exercise in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex to increase scenario realism and complexity by maximizing the use of US Air Force, joint, and international partner combat capabilities.

All RF-A exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex over Alaska. The entire airspace comprises extensive military operations areas, special-use airspace, and ranges, for a total airspace of more than 67,000 square miles.