14th Fighter Squadron plants SEAD at Red Flag-Alaska 17-2

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 14th Fighter Squadron from Misawa Air Base, Japan, took to the skies for Red Flag-Alaska 17-2, June 8 to 23.

“The premise of Red Flag is to provide realistic combat training that is ultimately essential to the success of air and space operations,” said Capt. Ty Perich, a 14th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “In that sense, Red Flag reinforces our ‘fight tonight’ mentality by providing the airspace, equipment and facilities to train at a higher level.”

RF-A 17-2, a Pacific Air Forces directed field training exercise for U.S. and international forces, takes place at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

JPARC is the largest instrumented air, ground and electronic combat training range in the world. It allows for optimal integration between the U.S. and international forces maximizing on developing and improving joint and multilateral interoperability.

“There are delegations from Israel, Thailand and Finland however, we are primarily exercising with the Japan and South Korea forces,” Perich explained. “It will be great to integrate with both the Japanese and Koreans simultaneously because we are rarely in the same place all at the same time, let alone in a training environment.”

With more than 11 airframes in attendance from across the world participating in the exercise, all are puzzle pieces that, when teamed up, are ready for combat. The F-16’s role, in addition to being the premier air-to-air combat platform, is suppression of enemy air defenses. Also known as the “Wild Weasel” mission, pilots enter enemy airspace early and disrupt or destroy their air defenses.

“In the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, Misawa is the only dedicated suppression of enemy air-defenses squadron,” said Maj. Daniel Krowinski, the 353rd Combat Training Squadron director of operations, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. “That’s their bread and butter. Their role in the exercise with the surface-to-air missiles and the integrated air-defense is a pretty significant factor to our forces.”

Krowinski continued explaining the SEAD mission affords other aircraft the ability to put bombs on target. This unique mission set is important because without it all the other aircraft are essentially unprotected from surface-to-air missiles.

Each pilot receives data through electronic warfare training emitters located throughout the Alaskan exercise ranges. The 353rd Combat Training Squadron operates all manned and unmanned emitters, which simulate realistic enemy surface-to-air missile systems and tactics.

“As a wingman, my role on the ground is to support the mission planning cell based on the needs of the mission commander and package leads,” Perich said. “Flying wise, it is to be visual, stay in formation and be lethal.”

This exercise develops a common operating picture using U.S. and partner nation airborne and land-based command and control assets, ultimately refining warfighter integration between participating militaries.

“I hope to walk away with a better understanding of how other weapons systems operate and how we, in the block-50 Viper community, can better support others,” Perich concluded.