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.”

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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.