Wolf Pack soars at RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing recently participated in Exercise RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1 at Eielson AFB, Ala., Oct. 6 to 17, demonstrating the Pack's reach while off the Korean Peninsula.
Wolf Pack Airmen actively took part in the Pacific Air Forces-wide field training exercise, focusing on improving combat readiness of U.S. and international forces flown under simulated air combat conditions.
"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, 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, Wolf Pack 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, 35th FS pilot, this was his first time to RF-A, and he more than welcomed the firsthand challenge before him.
"I heard about RF-A when I was really young, and it was something I always wanted to be a part of," said Tew. "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, and the challenges that RF-A brings are what makes me a better pilot."
RF-A exercises are also vital to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and conducting the training in Alaska with Republic of Korea Air Force units signifies continued U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific.
For the first time, the 20th FW from Seosan Air Base, ROK, flew their KF-16 Fighting Falcons over the Pacific Ocean to join their Wolf Pack brothers in this exercise.
ROKAF Maj. Lee, Woo Youl, 120th FS pilot, describes his first time participating at RF-A 15-1.
"This is a great opportunity for ROKAF because this exercise is a lot larger, and it gives us a chance to train even harder and closer with our U.S. partners," said Lee. "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 ROKAF at least twice a day at RF-A has already proven beneficial for both units.
But pilots are not the only ones who received valuable training at RF-A; maintainers and weapon loaders also endured the harsh conditions of Alaska's freezing temperatures, ensuring jets were properly operational for the missions before them.
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, 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," said Taylor. "When the day is over, knowing that I contributed to putting jets in the air is the most rewarding feeling for a crew chief."
According to leadership at Eielson AFB, RF-A sharpens multiple sets of combat skills while enhancing combat readiness.
"Having both ROKAF and the Wolf Pack participate together here at RF-A truly makes this a team and coalition event and greatly benefits Pacific Air Forces," said Col. William Culver, 354th FW vice commander and former Wolf Pack member. "The purpose behind this exercise is to better air-to-air combat training, and by doing so, we are prepared for realistic threats."
Culver added there is no better place to be stationed than Kunsan AB because the camaraderie there brings everyone close together, "just like a family."