A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron taxi during exercise Red Flag-Alaska 21-02 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 14, 2021. (Tech. Sgt. Peter Thompson / U.S. Air Force)

A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron taxi during exercise Red Flag-Alaska 21-02 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 14, 2021. (Tech. Sgt. Peter Thompson / U.S. Air Force)

Air Force kicks off major multinational exercise in Alaska

More than 100 aircraft from three countries will be involved.

Red Flag-Alaska, a major Air Force exercise hosted at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, began this week as international partners joined U.S. forces in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

The Republic of Korea Air Forces and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force have both deployed detachments for the annual exercise, which took place in a limited fashion last year.

“Last year, we held a US-only [Red Flag-Alaska] exercise in August, so this is our first RF-A with international participants,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Eads, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander, in a news release. “Currently, there is a lot of effort focused on knocking off the rust and relearning the muscle memory that it takes to host a Large Force Exercise with international participants.”

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The exercise, run by Pacific Air Forces, the Hawaii-based command which oversees all Air Force operations in the Asia/Pacific region, will go from June 10 to June 25, and will involve more than 1,500 servicemembers supporting more than 100 aircraft, according to the news release.

Service members from U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force listen to the Deployed Forces Commander, Col. Brian Cusson, to kick-off RED FLAG-Alaska 21-2 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, June 10, 2021. (Sheila deVera / U.S. Air Force)

Service members from U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force listen to the Deployed Forces Commander, Col. Brian Cusson, to kick-off RED FLAG-Alaska 21-2 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, June 10, 2021. (Sheila deVera / U.S. Air Force)

“The real benefit to this 21-2 exercise is the coalition, collaboration, and strengthening of our bond to our close partners in the [Pacific Command Area of Responsibility],” Eads said. “Visiting aircrews will be stressed and tested under safe and controlled environments to simulate their first ten combat sorties.”

The exercises will take place at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the large training area located in central Alaska, according to the news release. The exercise, which was truncated last year due to the pandemic, will proceed this year at full extension, incorporating international partners once again, according to the news release.

Other services have also stepped up exercises in the state, including the Navy and Marine Corps, which recently held Northern Edge 2021, involving more than 15,000 Marines, sailors and airmen.

A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron taxi during exercise Red Flag-Alaska 21-02 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 14, 2021. (Tech. Sgt. Peter Thompson / U.S. Air Force)

A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron taxi during exercise Red Flag-Alaska 21-02 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 14, 2021. (Tech. Sgt. Peter Thompson / U.S. Air Force)

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to the 1-40th Cavalry, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division prepare to jump at Donnelly training area in support of RED FLAG-Alaska on June 17th, 2021. (Airman 1st Class Mario Calabro / U.S. Air Force)

U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to the 1-40th Cavalry, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division prepare to jump at Donnelly training area in support of RED FLAG-Alaska on June 17th, 2021. (Airman 1st Class Mario Calabro / U.S. Air Force)

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