RAAF F-35 joins USAF F-35 on first Ex Red Flag

The Royal Australian Air Force successfully completed a two-week bilateral training exercise with the United States Air Force held from 12 to 27 August 2021.

Exercise Red Flag Alaska 21-3 (RFA21-3) was an advanced large force exercise aimed at optimising the integration capabilities and the relationship of coalition forces.

CAPTION: The latest four Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft to roll off the Lockheed Martin production line in Texas, have headed straight to Alaska to participate in Exercise Red Flag Alaska 21-3 at JPARC.

RFA21-3 was the first overseas exercise for Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II aircraft, designed to strengthen engagement with the United States Air Force’s Pacific Air Force. E-7A Wedgetail, EA-18G Growler, aircrew, and support personal were also deployed on the exercise to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

Red Flag Alaska 21-3 is a large-scale exercise meant to simulate a real-world combat scenario, and is hosted by Pacific Air Forces and conducted over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).

The JPARC is the US  Department of Defense’s primary training location in Alaska that allows integration in all domains and situations – land, air, sea, space and cyberspace to provide unmatched opportunities for the present and future services, joint  and multinational training.

It comprises 65,000 sq. miles (approx 167,000 Sq. kilometres) of airspace; 2,490 sq. miles (6,500 sq. kilometres) of land space with 6 million sq. kilometres of manoeuvring land; and 42,000 sq. nautical miles of surface, subservience and overflying space in the Gulf of Alaska.

The JPARC is dispersed geographically across Alaska and takes advantage of the varied terrain and weather including mountainous terrain, very cold weather and long periods of daylight.

CAPTION: Size and geographic comparisons of the JPARC.  Image from DeptofDefense, us airforce, USArmy

On the completion of Exercise Red Flag Alaska 21-3, Australia’s four newest F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrived on Australian soil as part of Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-3, bringing Australia’s fleet to 41 of 72 planned aircraft.





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