FAIRBANKS — It’s been a tough two weeks for the “good” forces flying over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.
In the Red Flag Alaska war games, visiting air forces play the role of the “blue” forces representing the United States and its allies. This month, blue forces included U.S., South Korean and Singapore units. Eielson Air Force Base’s Aggressor F-16 squadron played the role of the “red” enemy fighters.
According to two members of the blue forces who took a few minutes to talk to the News-Miner by telephone Thursday, a smaller-than-expected blue force made this month’s exercises especially difficult.
“It’s been pretty challenging,” said Capt. Leigh “Breaker” Larkin, who is stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. “We had a limited amount of blue air, but the red air remained the same. It was a more challenging Red Flag for everyone who came here to train. But for the most part, it’s been kind of nice to rise to the challenge.”
In addition to simulated air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, Larkin faced linguistic and cultural obstacles. She flew in the aft seat as the weapons system officer of F-15E fighters flown by Singapore Air Force pilots.
She said she didn’t have any major problems understanding the foreign pilots.
“There’s definitely been some challenges, but I think my squeaky voice is the harder one to hear,” she said.
Capt. Brent Carroll is stationed at the U.S. Kunsan Air Base in South Korea and goes by the call name “Rash” when he’s in the cockpit of his F-16. This is his third Red Flag Alaska, and he described it as the most difficult of the bunch. In particular, he said, one of the hardest missions was interdiction, where he was assigned a ground target to pursue while simultaneously fending off air attacks.
“It’s been pretty tough to figure out what is the higher priority, whether it’s the air-to-air threat or the air-to-ground threat,” he said. “How can we balance the two threats and still achieve our objectives?”
Red Flag Alaska concludes with a culminating mission today. This is the last Red Flag Alaska of 2012.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.