Cope Thunder exercise now Red Flag - Alaska

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
  • Air Force Print News
The Air Force chief of staff has announced the Cope Thunder exercise held in Alaska will be renamed and enhanced so it provides complementary training on the same level as the current Red Flag exercise held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Red Flag - Alaska coupled with Red Flag - Nellis will provide the Air Force a common set of exercises in multiple locations that have standardized and equal training capabilities.

“Red Flag - Alaska is an Air Force-level exercise that will build on and reinforce air force to air force habitual relationships,” said Gen. T. Michael Moseley. “Making this exercise a Red Flag expands joint training operations and opportunities to improve interoperability with our allies.”

Red Flag exercises include more than just aircraft and aircrews. These exercises expand the role of aggressor training across the board, to include ground, space and cyberspace training, as well as focusing on air combat at the operational level, he said.

“We know how to train and capitalize on our lessons learned,” General Moseley said. Expanding Red Flag is a generational leap in training capabilities.

“We have to continue to train at a high level against high-end threats and in all mission areas from fighters to combat search and rescue to ground controllers.”

Red Flag will use a three-tiered system to group and schedule the exercises and determine the capability level for both U.S. and foreign participants, which will establish the complexity of the exercise. The tiers will rotate annually between the two Red Flag locations.

A significant benefit of conducting Red Flag exercises in Alaska is the size and space available on the Pacific Alaska Range Complex. The range airspace covers 67,000 square miles compared to the 12,000 square miles of the Nellis test and training range.

“The use of these ranges is key to our fifth generation fighters -- the F-22A and the Joint Strike Fighter,” General Moseley said. “The space available and the strides to enhance training operations will make this more world-class than ever before.”

Additionally, Red Flag - Alaska provides a different climate and terrain where joint training can occur between services and allies.

“Attendees of either Red Flag exercise will leave better prepared to engage the enemy in any environment worldwide,” General Moseley said.