Finished Red Flag Alaska 24-1

(To air Force)
08/05/24

For over two intense weeks of flying activity, pilots, flight crews and specialists of the Air Force participated, together with their American colleagues, in the Red Flag Alaska 2024, one of the most important and complex training events of 2024 for the Air Force.

La Red Flag Alaska 24-1 it allowed the crews to validate the capabilities of the weapon systems supplied and consolidate operational tactics, in modern tactical scenarios characterized by high variability and complexity. All immersed in a diversified and new geographical environment, with a harsh climate and projected away from national borders.

The Air Force took part in it with a autonomous flight department (large force element) with four different types of aircraft, at their first experience in Alaska, capable of expressing a very broad spectrum of aerospace power capabilities. Two different types of fighters, the Eurofighters with swing role capabilities and the F-35As with omni role capabilities, an AEW radar aircraft – Airborne Early Warning with the E-550 CAEW, capable of ensuring the functions of aerial surveillance and tactical command and control of assets, and finally an AAR (Air to Air Refuelling) KC-767A refueling aircraft.

The Italian assets have successfully planned and executed two missions a day for over 600 total flight hours and more than 260 sorties in a training environment unique in the world, the Joint Pacific Range Complex, a very large airspace, with few restrictions, consisting of extensive areas dedicated to military operations, special use airspace and aerial firing ranges for a total area of ​​over 67.000 square miles (equivalent to approximately 174.000 square km, more than half of the Italian surface).

The four different assets of the Air Force, in addition to achieving important training returns in their typical sector of use, had the opportunity to interact with each other, consolidating joint employment tactics with a view to interoperability between Italian and US assets of the Pacific Air Forces of the United States Air Force (USAF), the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy.

“Having the opportunity to train together with assets and personnel from different operational communities, in a challenging training context and together with US allies, has allowed us to better understand each other's strengths and capabilities and to practice advanced tactics in A2AD scenarios ( Anti Access Area Denial)”, underlined Colonel Vito Cracas, commander of the Eielson autonomous flight unit. “One of the pillars of any modern air force is the principle 'train as you fight, and fight as you train'. During a flying exercise like Red Flag Alaska we all experience a progression in the challenge so that participants can share ideas and lessons learned, in order to best utilize the capabilities of each platform, emphasizing its strengths and minimizing those of weakness, thus achieving the final objective, all the tasks of the specific mission, in a more effective way”.

During the weeks of training, visits were also held by the attaché for defense and defense cooperation in the USA and Canada, general of the air division Maurizio Cantiello and the chief of staff of the air team command, general of the air division Andrea Argieri.

Ten units including flight crews and EW (Electronic Warfare) analysts from re.sto.ge also took part in the training event. (operational technical support department for electronic warfare) who took care of the systems mission data integrated reprogramming for Eurofighter and F-35 as well as the use and enhancement of the CAEW Electronic Warfare system. Their use was functional to ensuring maximum realism and optimal training return for Air Force crews, in terms of self-protection effects, suppression of air defenses and Non Traditional ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaisance).

During the Red Flag Alaska 24-1, personnel from the autonomous flight department also participated with the 353 instructorsrd combat training squadron, specialists of the art survival, evasion, Resistanceand Escape (SERE) and the US pilots in a series of survival exercises in the Arctic environment with the simulation of the launch of a pilot in hostile territory and subsequent combat search & rescue (C-SAR) or personnel recovery (Personnel Recovery) activities.

The deployment phases e re-deployment of the assets from Italy to Alaska (United States) and return, planned by the air operations command (COA), were the opportunity for the Air Force to exercise the national capacity for rapid projection from Aerospace (so-called Far Plan) , as a concrete implementation of the rapid deployment of forces (Large Force Deployment) at a geographically distant base, testing its logistical and security capabilities throughout the duration of the redeployment.

La Red Flag Alaska is organized four times a year, at Eielson and Elmendorf air bases, by the United States Air Force's PACAF (Pacific Air Force). Originally called Cope Thunder, was transferred to Eielson from Clark Air Base, Philippines, in 1992 after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on 15 June 1991 forced a reduction in operations. Cope Thunder it was then renamed Red Flag Alaska in 2006, for having acquired the complexity of the exercise of the same name over time Red Flag and organized at Nellis AFB (NV), although distinguishing it from it due to the immense airspace available.