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Nellis unit to invade Alaskan exercise

Maj. Sean Routier, 64th Aggressor Squadron pilot, climbs down from his F-16 Fighting Falcon April 17, 2006 at Eielson AFB, Alaska. The Aggressors will be participating in the first-ever Red Flag - Alaska exercise, which begins April 24 and continues for two weeks.

Maj. Sean Routier, 64th Aggressor Squadron pilot, climbs down from his F-16 Fighting Falcon April 17, 2006 at Eielson AFB, Alaska. The Aggressors will be participating in the first-ever Red Flag - Alaska exercise, which begins April 24 and continues for two weeks.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Nine F-16s and approximately 100 Airmen from the 64th Aggressor Squadron left Nellis Tuesday for the first-ever Red Flag – Alaska exercise.

The exercise, formerly known as Cope Thunder, is a combined training effort between Pacific Air Forces and Air Combat Command.

The Aggressors provide an air, ground and electronic threat package to Red Flag exercises each year at Nellis and at the annual Maple Flag exercise hosted by Canada.

“Our job is to hone the razor’s edge and make the best better,” said Lt. Col. Greg Marzolf, 64th Aggressor Squadron commander. “We present a full threat package to provide the blue forces as close to a realistic challenge as possible.”

Studies have shown that if a pilot makes it through his or her first 10 combat missions, the chances of them surviving increases dramatically, said Maj. Brad Glenn, 64th AGRS assistant director of operations.

“We simulate putting pilots through those first 10 missions so when they do have to go in to combat, its not an entirely new experience,” he said.

Red Flag – Alaska, which is conducted on the Pacific-Alaska Range Complex, will offer a unique experience from its counterpart here.

“The largest difference between the two locations is airspace,” said Colonel Marzolf. “The airspace in the PARC is much larger than the [Nevada Test and Training Range], and that makes for a change in tactics.”

The available airspace at the NTTR is 15,000 square miles, while the PARC’s airspace is more than 67,000 square miles.

Red Flag – Alaska begins Monday and ends May 5. Soon after their return from the exercise, the Aggressors will take part in Maple Flag in Canada, from May 12 to June 24.

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