News>German Air Force gains compatibility in Alaska
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- German Air Force Capt. Martin Jackiewicz, Special Air Mission Wing, air refueling officer reviews footage of an Airbus A310 Multi-Role Tanker Transport Tanker refueling a German Eurofighter during Red-Flag on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson June 19. Red-Flag Alaska is designed to strengthen bilateral ties and improve aerial tactics for numerous aircraft with the joint training. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ty-Rico Lea)
by Air Force 1st Lt. Matthew Chism
JBER Public Affairs
6/28/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In 2007, then 13th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Loyd Utterback said, "(Red Flag-Alaska) allows us to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures and improve interoperability."
Today, many of the same sentiments are echoed by military leaders.
"Although we are flying alongside coalition forces on a regular basis (in Europe), what we learn here is a completely different dimension ... and we are able to prepare ourselves for possible future operations anywhere," said German Air Force Col. Andreas Pfeiffer, wing commander, Fighter Wing 74, Neuburg air base, Bavaria, Germany, last week during his time at Eielson Air Force Base.
The possible complexity of those future operations requires militaries to be agile, flexible and ready.
Air Force Maj. Tony Thomas, a U.S. military exchange officer with the German air force, explained that with operations going so smoothly the exercise has been a huge learning opportunity for the personnel.
"The main mission here is to support the Eurofighter Typhoon and also work with our international partners to coordinate our operations without creating conflicts," he said. The Alaskan tactical air combat employment exercise, marks as one of the few times that these aircraft (Airbus A310 and Typhoon) have had a chance to work together in an international training environment, Thomas said.
This session of Red Flag-Alaska not only afforded the German air force its first chance to participate with the Typhoon in a U.S. exercise, it also allowed the support functions of that aircraft to get a taste of what it's like to deploy.
"This exercise will act as training for how to prepare for an exercise of this magnitude," Thomas said. "As well it has been like a deployment of sorts for the personnel. They've had an opportunity to go through, make adjustments, and assess the process as it is fairly new for these two airframes."
In total, the German air force brought one A310 multirole transport tanker, eight Typhoons, and about 150 maintainers, pilots and staff to participate in Red Flag-Alaska.
The A310, recently reconfigured into a tanker platform, is assigned to the Special Air Mission Wing of the German Federal Ministry of Defense. The Typhoons are compatible with the A310 Tanker, which uses a "probe and drogue system" to refuel other aircraft.
Though some German personnel spend time at Holloman Air Force Base, home to the German Air Force Tactical Training Center, Thomas said they were still "excited at the chance to work and communicate with the all the U.S. and international exercise participants."
"The chance to integrate the airframes and of course ourselves, in a combined environment, is a great experience," Thomas said.
Germany, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, conducts about half of their real world missions in support of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Thomas said.