EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Approximately 130 Airmen and eight F-16 Fighting Falcons with the 148th Fighter Wing from Duluth, Minnesota, are participating in RED FLAG-Alaska 15-3.
This is the first RF-A for the 148th FW, and it gives the unit the opportunity to train in its primary suppression of enemy air defense, or SEAD, mission.
"The flying is a learning experience,” said Lt. Col. Curt Grayson, the 148th Fighter Wing detachment commander for RF-A 15-3. "We are taking all the threats they are throwing at us, handling it and trying to improve every day."
The entire infrastructure is in place at Eielson Air Force Base, so all units have to do is show up and train. The base supplies Red Air (enemy forces) from the 18th Aggressor Squadron which has its own F-16s that fly against and challenge coalition forces in daily combat sorties. Full-time planning staff in the 353rd Combat Training Squadron design and build all scenarios.
"They have everything we need to train for our SEAD mission, and we get to practice with other coalition nations," Grayson said.
The size of the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex airspace is a great benefit to exercise participants. The more than 67,000 square mile space allows for supersonic maneuvers and goes from the surface to 60,000 feet. It's large enough so all the aircraft can get in there and train at the same time.
Flying with other fifth-generation aircraft was an objective the 148th Fighter Wing wanted to exercise.
"It's important for us to be able to take what we do at home every day and integrate it into a larger force to create a positive outcome," Grayson said. "This training will help us to understand what an F-22 Raptor can do for us [and] what an F-18 Growler can do for us. We will come away with a clearer picture on how they can help us and how we can help them, making the whole team better.
"This is a great opportunity; we will be taking advantage of these assets and training toward real-world scenarios," he added.