Team McConnell Participates in Red Flag-Alaska 24-1

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MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, KAN. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing participated in the Pacific Air Forces-directed joint exercise RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 24-1, involving multiple units and aircraft from the Italian Air Force, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy from April 22 to May 3.

The exercise took place within the expansive Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex, a 77,000- square-mile training area that is the largest of its kind in the Department of Defense. This environment provides each aircrew member with their first 10 combat sorties, simulating a range of combat scenarios to prepare for potential future operations.

“RED FLAG-Alaska is designed to provide combat aviators with the experience of seeing all the fog and friction of combat before they actually have to go do it,” said U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Lloyd Wright, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander. “We try to simulate, in a combat-representative way, scenarios that they are going to see in the real world as closely as we can. We incorporate surface-to-air and air-to-air threats, as well as complex scenarios requiring integration, planning and deeper thought than what they would get at home in day-to-day training.”

One of the primary benefits for aircrews at RF-A 24-1 was the opportunity to gain new perspectives outside their regular training routines, crucial for their development into more skilled aviators.

“Perspective is the big thing from my view,” Wright said. “The ability to integrate, learn what other platforms, what other nations, and what other communities do and are capable of and how to better integrate with them to make a cohesive mission go forward. The scope and scale is something they can't get at home.”

Participants at RF-A faced long-duration sorties, including both air-to-air refueling and airborne command and control operations with a robust simulated air defense system to create a comprehensive training experience.

The exercise also emphasized coalition-building with international partners, underscoring the importance of synchronized operations in potential conflicts.

RF-A allows U.S. forces and partner nations to train, develop and learn tactics, techniques and procedures in the case a contingency happens, and day one of the fight is not the first time they are working together.

“It’s no secret that we can't fight alone,” Wright said. “The United States is quite powerful, but our friends and partner nations are invaluable in any future conflicts. We are coalition builders and that is one of our greatest strengths. This is one of the ways that we synchronize so it's not a foreign concept the first time we fight alongside our allies – we know what they can do, and they know what we can do.”

Wright emphasized that not only is RF-A for aircrews to train, but the two-week exercise wouldn’t be possible without all the support from the rest of the team.

“I just want to give a shout out to the maintainers, the logistics folks, the supply people and everyone in the background who allowed all of the sorties to successfully launch out and get the world class training that we got for our aircrews and getting everyone ready to go,” Wright said. “None of that would happen without everyone back here supporting the mission.”

Team McConnell’s involvement in RF-A 24-1 highlights its commitment to readiness and international cooperation, ensuring that our forces remain among the best prepared in the world.