The US Air Force (USAF) 356th Fighter Squadron (FS) and 388th Fighter Wing’s (FW) F-35A Lightning II aircraft have participated in the Red Flag-Alaska (RF-A) exercise in the Alaskan skies.
The new fifth-generation fighter aircraft is the first F-35 aircraft to fly in the US Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise.
18th Aggressor Squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Kinsey said: “The purpose of RF-A is to provide training for the aircrew participating on the blue-air side in order to increase mission readiness and prepare them for combat operations.”
During the earlier Red Flag-Alaska exercises, other 354th FW forces participated to enhance their warfighting capabilities.
356th FS commander Lieutenant Colonel James Christensen said: “We have been flying F-35s for the past three months and this is the first Red Flag exercise for the 356th FS.
“The F-35 brings more information to the airspace than we have had in previous generations of aircraft. This Red Flag is really unique because we now have all fifth-generation fighters on the blue side. When we combine those forces together we can be more lethal.”
Following its delivery in April, the F-35 aeroplane pilots studied RF-A’s 77,000-square mile playground, also known as the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).
The training included basic fundamental skills-type progression from basic skills to advanced tactics. Red Flag-Alaska provides a realistic combat environment for personnel to be trained.
Christensen added: “They can simulate that environment here at Red Flag with the 353rd Combat Training Squadron (CTS) and in the JPARC.”
The 354th FW aims to encourage more F-35 fifth-generation aircraft from Pacific partners to join the fight.