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Pantons deploy to Red Flag-Alaska

April 14, 2009 (by SrA Dana Hill) - Approximately 150 Wolf pack members departed Kunsan for Eielsen Air Force Base, Alaska recently to participate in Red Flag-Alaska 09-2.

Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise for U.S. Forces; it provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close-air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment.

"The training Red Flag-Alaska provides is critical to maintaining our combat capability." said Lt. Col. Steven Kennel, 35th Fighter Squadron commander

On an average, more than 700 people and up to 60 aircraft deploy to Eielson, and an additional 500 people and 40 aircraft deploy to Elmendorf Air Force Base, for each Red Flag-Alaska exercise. Most participating Red Flag-Alaska units arrive a week prior to the actual exercise. During that time, aircrews may fly one or two range orientation flights, make physical and mental preparations, hone up on local flying restrictions, receive local safety and survival briefings, and work on developing orientation plans.

According to Colonel Kennel Red Flag-Alaska provides 19 separate Large Force Employment missions integrating French Mirage 2000s, F-16s, C-17s, C-130s, EA6B Prowlers, E-3 Sentries and KC-10 tankers into a complex training scenario.

in 2008, more than 2,000 servicemembers deployed to Red Flag-Alaska, and participating aircrews flew close to 2,000 missions. In addition to the Air Force participants, Royal Air Force Tornadoes, Nimrods, VC-10s and Jaguars, as well as Army, Marine and Japanese Air Self Defense Force Stinger Teams also took part.

"The intense planning, preparation, execution and debriefing with our NATO allies for each mission will provide our pilots with invaluable combat preparation," said Colonel Kennel. "This will be 12 of our 24 pilots' first Red Flag deployment."

Aircrews aren't the only ones who benefit from the Red Flag-Alaska experience. The exercise provide an operational training environment for participants such as intelligence Airmen, maintenance crews and command and control elements.

"We are planning to employ the entire spectrum of weapons from our F-16s -- GBU-10, 12 and 24s; GBU-31s and 38s; JDAMs; Mk-82s and 84s; 20mm cannon rounds; and AGM-65 Mavericks," said COlonel Kennel. "This will allow our weapons troops to load our aircraft, validate our jet systems and allow each pilot to drop at least one inert and one live full scale weapons employment.

"The three Red Flag Alaska bombing ranges provide the opportunity for the 35th Fighter Squadron to drop its entire 2009 munitions allocation; something we are unable to do in Korea due to local range restrictions."

During the two-week employment phase of the exercise, aircrews are subjected to every conceivable combat threat. Scenarios are shaped to meet each exercise's specific training objectives. All units are involved in the development of exercise training objectives. At the height of the exercise, up to 70 jet fighters can be operating in the same airspace at one time.

Members of the 35th Fighter Squadron will also be participating in Distant Frontier Weapons Training Deployment where they will fly 142 sorties.

Red Flag-Alaska 09-2 runs through April 18.

Courtesy of 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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