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RF-A 16-3 brings nations, joint training together

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., prepares to take off Aug. 5, 2016, from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. COPE THUNDER was re-designated RF-A in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., prepares to take off Aug. 5, 2016, from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. COPE THUNDER was re-designated RF-A in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., takes off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during a familiarization flight for RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A provides training for deployed maintenance and support personnel in sustainment of large-force deployed air operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., takes off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during a familiarization flight for RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A provides training for deployed maintenance and support personnel in sustainment of large-force deployed air operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. COPE THUNDER was re-designated RF-A in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. COPE THUNDER was re-designated RF-A in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., taxi for take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-3. This exercise provides unique opportunities to integrate various forces into joint, coalition and multilateral training from simulated forward operating bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., taxi for take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-3. This exercise provides unique opportunities to integrate various forces into joint, coalition and multilateral training from simulated forward operating bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., and Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Canada, line up at the end of runway Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Free exchange of ideas between multilateral forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister service relationships, but also their operational efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., and Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Canada, line up at the end of the runway Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Free exchange of ideas between multilateral forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister service relationships, but also their operational efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

Fourteen U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., wait along with U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. as Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet aircraft assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Canada, in front of the Thunder Dome Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to a familiarization sortie for RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A exercises provide U.S. and allied pilots, aircrews and operational support personnel the opportunity to train and improve their air combat skills in preparation for a myriad of worldwide contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., wait along with U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. as Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet aircraft assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Canada, in front of the Thunder Dome Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to a familiarization sortie for RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A exercises provide U.S. and allied pilots, aircrews and operational support personnel the opportunity to train and improve their air combat skills in preparation for a myriad of worldwide contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., takes off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during a familiarization flight for RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A provides training for deployed maintenance and support personnel in sustainment of large-force deployed air operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., takes off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during a familiarization flight for RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A provides training for deployed maintenance and support personnel in sustainment of large-force deployed air operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. COPE THUNDER was re-designated RF-A in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighter aircraft assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. COPE THUNDER was re-designated RF-A in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Navy pilots and a crew chief assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., prepare an EA-18G Growler aircraft for take off, Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3.  Free exchange of ideas between multilateral forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister-service relationships, but also their operational efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Navy pilots and a crew chief assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., prepare an EA-18G Growler aircraft for take off, Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. Free exchange of ideas between multilateral forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister-service relationships, but also their operational efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

Two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet aircraft pilots assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Canada, walk from the Thunderdome, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 5, 2016, during the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3, while a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, taxis for take off. Free exchange of ideas between multilateral forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister-service relationships, but also their operational efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
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Two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet aircraft pilots assigned to the 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Canada, walk from the Thunderdome, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 5, 2016, during the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3, while a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, taxis for take off. Free exchange of ideas between multilateral forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister-service relationships, but also their operational efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of South Korea, show excitement while preparing an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft for take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A simulates the first 10 combat sorties of an initial surge during a conflict, enabling pilots to better understand the stresses of the environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
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U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of South Korea, show excitement while preparing an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft for take off Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, during the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A simulates the first 10 combat sorties of an initial surge during a conflict, enabling pilots to better understand the stresses of the environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Garibay, a 336th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons loader assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., removes a cover from electronic attack equipment on a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3.  RF-A training in Alaska signifies continued commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of responsibility and is vital to maintaining peace and stability in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Garibay, a 336th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons loader assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., removes a cover from electronic attack equipment on a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A training in Alaska signifies continued commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of responsibility and is vital to maintaining peace and stability in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeremy Guinther, the 35th Fighter Squadron director of operations assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, prepares to launch an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A enables joint and international units to sharpen their combat skills by flying simulated combat sorties in a realistic threat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
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U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeremy Guinther, the 35th Fighter Squadron director of operations assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, prepares to launch an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3. RF-A enables joint and international units to sharpen their combat skills by flying simulated combat sorties in a realistic threat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Jordan Baker and Timothy Rich, both assigned to the 336th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., remove a cover from a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-3. This exercise provides unique opportunities to integrate various forces into joint, coalition and multilateral training from simulated forward operating bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)
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U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Jordan Baker and Timothy Rich, both assigned to the 336th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., remove a cover from a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft Aug. 5, 2016, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, prior to the familiarization day of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-3. This exercise provides unique opportunities to integrate various forces into joint, coalition and multilateral training from simulated forward operating bases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored, Joint National Training Capability accredited exercise, officially started Aug. 4 with familiarization day, followed by 10 days of simulated combat sorties.

 

Originally operated under the name COPE THUNDER, the exercise moved to Eielson in 1992 from Clark Air Base, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. The exercise was re-designated RED FLAG-Alaska in 2006.

 

“RED FLAG-Alaska enables joint and international units to sharpen their combat skills by flying simulated combat sorties in a realistic threat environment,” said Lt. Col. Travis Ruhl, the 353rd Combat Training Squadron commander. “The focus of RF-A is to train combat avionics in stressful advanced threat scenarios against near-peer adversaries by integrating a diverse set of joint and coalition capabilities. In addition, the training allows them to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures while improving interoperability.”

 

All RF-A exercises take place in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) which has a total operating area of more than 67,000 square miles.

 

The range, roughly five times the size of the airspace available in its sister-exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., is approximately the size of Florida. It includes one conventional bombing range and two tactical bombing ranges containing 510 different types of targets and 45 threat simulators, both manned and unmanned.

 

“The large amount of space forces pilots to figure out the logistical problem of working in such a large scale, similar to an entire theater of operations,” said Lt. Col. Julio Rodriguez, the 18th Aggressor Squadron commander. “The multiple uses the JPARC provides is imperative to the success of our training. We can go faster here than any blue force has ever trained, almost to Mach 2 to show the pilots what it’s like if the enemy were to do use that as one of its tactics”

 

That unique terrain, coupled with the vast airspace, also allows the U.S. Army to train its units in a variety of different environments while they participate in RF-A.

 

Aircrews aren't the only Airmen who benefit from the RF-A experience. The exercises provide an operations training environment for participants such as unit-level intelligence specialists, maintenance crews, and command and control elements and sustainment personnel who provide logistics, lodging food services and personnel support for contingency operations.

 

“For us, the tempo more than doubles, and even triples, in some facilities such as lodging,” said Lt. Col. Erin Hancock, the 354th Force Support Squadron commander. “With an influx of approximately 1,000 personnel during RED FLAG, we have the opportunity to focus on large-force sustainment support similar to what is provided in a deployed environment. While the primary focus is on feeding and lodging, services personnel are also able to get training and experience planning community events to provide off-duty entertainment along with resiliency options.”

 

The free exchange of ideas between forces during RF-A enhances not just partners and sister-service relationships, but also their operational efficiency.

 

RF-A 16-3 welcomes more than 80 aircraft and hundreds of participants to include the local 18th Aggressor Squadron, pilots, service members and aircraft from Misawa Air Base, Japan, Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Royal Canadian Air Force 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cold Lake, Canada, MacDill, Fla., the local 168th Air Refueling Squadron, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., Schriever AFB, Colo., Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright, Alaska.