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U.S., Australia wrap Red Flag exercise in Alaska

By Jake Thomas
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U.S., Australia wrap Red Flag exercise in Alaska
U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons and a KC-135 Stratotanker fly in close proximity during Red Flag-Alaska 21-3 near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, on Aug. 23. Photo by Senior Airman Larue Guerrisky/U.S. Air Force

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday that it has concluded a multinational drill with the Royal Australian Air Force in Alaska.

Red Flag-Alaska 21-3, held over the course of the last week, is a routine drill occurring three or four times annually that is intended to strengthen interoperability in the Indo-Pacific region through combat simulations.

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Last year's drill included the use of U.S. F-35 fighter aircraft for the first time.

Officials said at the time that they planned eventually for F-35s stationed in Australia, Japan and Korea to participate in the exercise regularly to standardize tactics, techniques and procedures.

This year's Red Flag drill was the first to include F-35 Lighting IIs from the Royal Australian Air Force, in addition to fifth-generation aircraft from the United States.

"We accomplished a variety of training from aerial refueling, dirt landing zones and cargo airdrops to air-to-air combat and air-to-surface combat against a large simulated enemy force," U.S. Air Force Maj. Gregory Weigel, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 assistant director of operations, said in a press release.

The exercise is centered at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska where it concluded Friday.

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Approximately 1,800 service members from both nations' air forces flew, maintained and supported 80 aircraft from more than 20 units, Air Force officials said.

The exercise involved multiple military units from Kadena Air Base in Japan and military installations from across the U.S.

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