Wolf Pack soars at RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Taylor Curry
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, recently participated in Red Flag-Alaska (RF-A)15-1 from Oct. 6 to 17at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

The Pacific Air Forces field training exercise focused on improving combat readiness of U.S. and international forces flown under simulated air combat conditions to prepare for realistic threats.

"Our goal is to employ as close to a real-world 'first-push' situation as possible when it comes to this exercise," said Lt. Col. Lynn Savage, the 35th Fighter Squadron commander. "Our key to success is our discipline; making sure all of our calculations are precise in every way."

During the exercise, pilots were able to sharpen their skills by flying simulated combat sorties in a realistic threat environment, all the while exchanging tactics and techniques with other PACAF units.

For 1st Lt. Jared Tew, a 35th FS pilot, this was his first time to Red Flag-Alaska, and he more than welcomed the firsthand challenge before him.

"I heard about (Red Flag-Alaska) when I was really young, and it was something I always wanted to be a part of," Tew said. "The greatest takeaway from this exercise is being able to fly with other air frames that I don't normally get to fly with at Kunsan (AB), and the challenges that (Red Flag-Alaska) brings are what makes me a better pilot."

Red Flag-Alaska exercises are also vital to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and conducting the training in Alaska with South Korean air force units signifies continued U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific.

For the first time, the 20th FW from Seosan Air Base, South Korea, flew their KF-16 Fighting Falcons in the exercise.

South Korea air force Maj. Lee, Woo Youl, a 120th FS pilot, described his first time participating at Red Flag-Alaska as a great experience.

"This is a great opportunity for (the South Korean air force) because this exercise is a lot larger, and it gives us a chance to train even harder and closer with our U.S. partners," Lee said. "Communication is the largest challenge for me this exercise because of the language barrier, but it is a challenge that I must overcome. Also, I believe Alaska is one of the greatest places I've experienced for in-flight training, but being part of the mission briefings have been the most beneficial for me."

Savage added that being able to fly with the South Korean air force at least twice a day at Red Flag-Alaska has already proven beneficial for both units.

Pilots are not the only ones who received valuable training at during the exercise; maintainers and weapon loaders also endured the harsh conditions of Alaska's freezing temperatures, ensuring jets were properly operational for the missions.

Tew stated that aircrews greatly appreciate the efforts and hard work maintainers put into the jets.

"I'm constantly inspecting the aircraft for any cracks or dings," said Airman 1st Class Joel Taylor, a 35th FS crew chief. "Making sure the jet is ready to go is my priority.

"I have to be responsible for the integrity of the aircraft, and when launching a jet, safety is my number one concern," he continued. "When the day is over, knowing that I contributed to putting jets in the air is the most rewarding feeling for a crew chief."