Idaho Air National Guard participates in Red Flag Alaska
By Airman 1st Class Mercedee Schwartz, 124th Fighter Wing
/ Published June 11, 2018
EIELSON AFB, Alaska --
Airmen from the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, participated in Red Flag Alaska 18-2, June 11-22, 2018, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
RFA is a simulated combat scenario comprised of multi-national forces. Several F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson AFB played the role as the defensive forces in order to maximize combat readiness.
RFA is a unique opportunity for the wing to come to Alaska and train with different fighter squadrons and other aircraft, said Airman 1st Class Nathan Johnston, a crew chief with the 124th Fighter Wing.
More than 1,500 people and 100 aircraft from four branches of the military participated in the exercise including units from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Royal Air Force together flew over 4,000 missions.
“When you have this many different types of assets coming together it presents awesome planning opportunities,” said 1st Lt. Mike Shufeldt, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the 190th Fighter Squadron. “It also presents challenges that we get to work through that prepares us for going to combat and working as a team down range.”
Shufeldt said Red Flag has typically been more geared towards air to air operations, but the 190th FS was able to help plan this Red Flag, tailoring the training to the A-10’s air to ground mission.
RFA provided a training opportunity for more than just the pilots. Airmen from many areas of the 124th FW including various maintenance crews, logistics personnel, services members and others also participated in scenarios and simulated combat conditions.
Senior Airman Jesse Barber, a KC-135 instructor boom operator with the 50th Air Refueling Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, said RFA allows for the units to gain valuable experience working with different units as well as different countries.
“Getting to refuel some of the fighter jets that we don’t normally get to refuel gives our boom operators experience with working in a fast pace environment and other valuable training that we need,” said Barber.
Shufeldt said it was a true testament to the 124th FW ability to go somewhere, pop up shop, and get the job done.
“We got a ton of sorties in, had a lot of learning experiences,” said Shufeldt. “This is stuff we can take back to our unit back home and keep making ourselves better, and in the end, that’s our goal.”