Exercise ‘Red Flag — Alaska’ is growing in stature. Jonathan Derden ventures into the wilds of America’s largest and most sparsely populated state — ideal for warfighter training

RED FLAG – Alaska’ (RF-A) brings together a dazzling array of hardware three to four times per year — the first iteration of Fiscal Year 2017 was held from October 7-21. Conducted under the auspices of the commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), the exercise included assets and personnel from the United States, Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Initially known as ‘Cope Thunder’, RF-A traces its roots to the now-closed Clark Air Base in the Philippines, where the large force exercise attracted participants from within PACAF and other partner nations. With the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, a nearby volcano, Clark was suddenly evacuated and abandoned. ‘Cope

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