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'Red Flag' exercises continue providing realistic combat training

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft takes off from the flight line during RED FLAG-Alaska 17-2 June 13, 2017, at Eielson Air Base, Alaska. RED FLAG-Alaska provides an optimal training environment in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region and focuses on improving ground, space, and cyberspace combat readiness and interoperabillity for U.S. and international forces.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Haley D. Phillips)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft takes off from the flight line during RED FLAG-Alaska 17-2 June 13, 2017, at Eielson Air Base, Alaska. RED FLAG-Alaska provides an optimal training environment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and focuses on improving ground, space, and cyberspace combat readiness and interoperabillity for U.S. and international forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Haley D. Phillips)

A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet aircraft assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta, takes off from the Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, runway Aug. 15, 2016, during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-3. The aircraft will participate in a morning sortie over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex airspace, which spans more than 67,000 square miles and provides a realistic training environment that allows commanders to train for full spectrum engagements, ranging from individual skills to complex, large-scale engagements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman)

A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet aircraft assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta, takes off from the Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, runway Aug. 15, 2016, during RED FLAG-Alaska 16-3. RED FLAG-Alaska is focused on improving the combat readiness of U.S. and international forces and developing and improving joint and combined interoperability. It is conducted on the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) with air operations flown primarily out of Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Cassandra Whitman)

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 96th Bomber Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), La., waits on the flight line during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-3, July 28, 2017, at Eielson AFB, Alaska. RF-A provides an optimal training environment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region and focuses on improving ground, space, and cyberspace combat readiness and interoperability for U.S. and international forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 96th Bomber Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), La., waits on the flight line during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-3, July 28, 2017, at Eielson AFB, Alaska. RF-A provides an optimal training environment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region and focuses on improving ground, space, and cyberspace combat readiness and interoperability for U.S. and international forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

It’s that time again when aircraft from U.S. and partner nations soar through the Alaskan sky as RED FLAG-Alaska has officially kicked-off for the final time this season. RF-A 17-3 is scheduled to run from July 27 to August 11.

As one of the Air Force’s premier flying exercises, Eielson Air Force Base has invited U.S. and international partners to participate in this uniquely designed training experience that could potentially save their lives.

“Our goal and focus over the next two weeks is to provide the best combat training in the world,” said Col. Todd Robbins, 354th Fighter Wing vice commander. “There are three levels of improvement we seek to provide for the participants. First, we want to make them better individually as operators. Second, we want to make them better at integrating with different platforms. Third, we want them to develop a better understanding and trust in the capabilities of partner nations.”

RF-A is a Pacific Air Forces commander-directed training exercise, which allows pilots to experience real-life scenarios and support personnel to train as they would fight. The exercise utilizes the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex; the largest instrumental air, ground and electronic combat training range in the world, covering more than 67,000 square miles.

“We hope to create an environment where we can educate, integrate, execute and learn,” said Lt. Col. Travis Ruhl, the 353rd Combat Training Squadron commander. “We want everyone to take the lessons they learn and bring them back to their home stations.”

Several units from across the globe are participating in RF-A 17-3 and include: the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Eielson AFB, Alaska; the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; the Electronic Attack Squadron 138, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.; the 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; the 425th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Canada; the 437th Transport Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Canada; the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena AB, Japan; the 168th Air Wing, Eielson AFB, Alaska; the 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale AFB, La.; the 210th Rescue Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; the 746th Test Squadron, Holloman AFB, New Mexico; the 129th and 131st Rescue Squadrons out of Moffett Air National Guard Base, Cali.; and the Naval Special Warfare Special Operations Forces from Virginia.

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