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168th Wing Refuels Red Flag Alaska - Going the Distance

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th wing

Red Flag-Alaska 24-1, a Pacific Air Forces-led exercise, ramped up operations at Eielson Air Force Base, allowing an exchange of tactics, techniques, and procedures with the visiting Italian Air Forces, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy, April 18 – May 3, 2024. Approximately 2,000 service members flew, maintained, and supported over 60 aircraft from 15 units. The 168th Wing provided air refueling, enhancing the air combat coverage and providing participants with the means to go the distance.

Red Flag-Alaska provides interoperability large-force employment training with a collaborative spirit across the U.S. forces and NATO countries participating.

“The Red Flag exercises allow us to work together cohesively as a strong, unified team,” said Lt. Col. Joe Bob Howard, 168th Wing KC-135 pilot. “We provide fuel to our allies, enhancing our air capabilities together, providing a free and open Indo-Pacific. The exercise allows us to train, collaborate, and build relationships, further strengthening our collective defense capabilities.”

As part of the RF-A, the 168th WG pilots and boom operators take to the skies, working with different flight crews and communicating over the radios. They provide air refueling capabilities and extend air operations across the extensive training grounds in Alaska.

“Red Flag is a powerful demonstration of our unified capabilities,” said Howard.

The training integrates the forces into a realistic threat environment using the more than 77,000 square miles of airspace in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the most extensive combat training range in the world.

The RF-A exercise provides a platform for U.S. forces and partner nations to train together before meeting up in case a contingency occurs.