The Pacific Air Forces-directed exercise, Red Flag-Alaska (RF-A) 23-3, which had units and aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps participating, concluded Aug. 25, 2023.
RF-A utilizes the vast Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex to provide each aircrew member with their first 10 combat sorties and enable U.S. and international partners to work together for any future contingency.
“The JPARC is an amazing advantage for anyone who comes here to train,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Johnston, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 director of operations. “The size of the JPARC allows aircrews to execute at ranges that they potentially would in a combat environment.”
RF-A 23-3 brought various U.S. aircraft, like F-22A Raptors, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-35A Lightning II, KC-46A Pegasus, KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-130J Super Hercules and the E-7A Wedgetail from the R.A.A.F. together. For two weeks, they trained and traded tactics, techniques and procedures.
“One key aspect of Red Flag 23-3 is being more focused on integrating with the fifth-generation aircraft we have,” Johnston said. “We talk a lot about the advanced threat, the surface-to-air threat, and the air-to-air threat that Red Flag provides. This Red Flag in particular lets us integrate our F-35s and F-22s against the robust threat that we have in our JPARC.”
RF-A 23-3 featured approximately 2,000 U.S. service members from 20 units, all of whom were involved in flying, maintaining, and supporting more than 80 aircraft.
“Compared to our domestic regular training exercises, Red Flag is definitely the pinnacle of the training that we are afforded the opportunity to partake in,” said R.A.A.F. Flight Lt. Nelson Mirus, air battle manager assigned to the 2 Squadron. “At Red Flag, we see far more aircraft and far more people involved in the missions than we would see back home. For that reason alone it is valuable training, but on top of that, we get to work with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines and any other coalition partners who are invited to the exercise.”
As coalition partners continue working together and building interoperability, they will be ready for all future contingencies.
“In order to ensure we keep up with current threats around the world and being prepared for that future contingency, we have to adapt with how the world is changing,” said Johnston. “As technology continues to improve, the scenarios that we are executing must stay in line with where the world is technologically.”