FAIRBANKS, AK -- Military aircraft from Poland, Germany and Japan are in the Interior taking part in Red Flag 12–2.
The 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson is playing host.
There are three major exercises scheduled this year, Red Flag 12–2 is the second largest, ...ever and was supposed to be even bigger.
"A few of the units had to fall out for a number of reasons, so it drew down, it became smaller than what we first expected," said Brigadier General James Post III, Commander of the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base.
Day and night missions take place over a ten day period in the Joint Pacific Range Complex, or JPARC as coordinated by the 353rd Combat Training Squadron.
The 168th Air Refueling Wing Alaska Air National Guard also participates, in addition to the notorious 18th Aggressor Squadron, ...Eielson's F–16s.
Foreign visitors say they are amazed at the ample space JPARC provides.
"When you look at the airspace here it's about the entire airspace of Germany (laughs). My own airspace I have for training in Germany for training is some 60 to 50 miles, squared, from 10,000 to 25,000 feet, maybe.... And that's it," said Colonel Andreas Pfeiffer, Commander of Fighterwing 74 in Germany.
For others, simply making it half–way across the globe to participate in Red Flag is accomplishment enough, and an honor.
Lieutenant Colonel Pawel Marcinkowski, Commander of the 6th Fighter Squadron Poznan-Krzesiny in Poland said, "Total hours was like 40 hours of flight, huge deed for Poland as a first time. We just came in 8 jets as we started, so ... very good for us."
Poland's Air Force came equipped with F–16s to Red Flag, Japan arrived with Mitsubishi F–15Js and for the first time ever, the Eurofighter Typhoon from Germany is making an appearance.
Another first, U.S. Air Forces premiered the F–22 Raptor to Red Flag to the amazement of foreign commanders.
"I haven't seen him (F22) yet, so I don't exactly, but he seems to be a very great fighter," said Colonel Mitsushi “Mickey” Fukunaga, Commander of 6th Air Wing, KAMTSU Air Base, Japan.
Another Red Flag, 12–3, will be conducted in August.
Base Commander James Post says regardless of the fate of the Agressor Squadron at Eielson, Red Flag Alaska will continue in the Interior.