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NEWS | May 19, 2022

Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Wing refuels Red Flag

By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey, 168th Wing Public Affairs

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – There is no need to stop for gas when the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Wing delivers. Airmen of the 168th Wing led a tanker task force refueling Red Flag-Alaska 22-1, enabling joint and multilateral training April 28-May 13.

Red-Flag Alaska is a nonstop flying exercise affording combat readiness training opportunities to approximately 2,200 service members from three nations, maintaining and supporting more than 90 aircraft and over 25 units.

“As Tanker Task Force lead unit, the 168th integrated successfully with collocated KC-46s and geographically separated KC-135s for coordinated air refueling across Alaska’s largest training airspace,” said Lt. Col. Dean Thibodeau, 168th Wing Tanker Task Force lead planner.

Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces exercise flown under simulated air combat conditions over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, providing more than 77,000 square miles of airspace.

The 168th Wing met up with the aircraft of partners and allies in the skies over Alaska during Red Flag, refueling multinational aircraft in addition to the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force.

“I am incredibly proud of the 168th team and am confident we received and enabled some of the most realistic training available to us and our allies,” said Thibodeau. “Due to the remarkable efforts of our staff, maintainers, and crews, the 168th produced 100% of scheduled missions.”

The 168th Tanker Task Force’s engagement with partners and allies strengthened relationships and interoperability.

“The training conducted with our NATO allies and partners during Red Flag strengthens our capabilities and ability to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Thibodeau. “Exercises like Red Flag continue to build strong relationships and global security.”

Airmen of the 168th Wing provided critical support to allies through on-time rapid in-flight refueling generating combat power.

“This Red Flag has provided a unique opportunity for the 168th to demonstrate our capabilities to our active duty and sister-service partners,” said Tech. Sgt. Nathan Carey, 168th Wing crew chief.

“The 168th Wing committed to owning the fuel effort,” said Maj. Jason Erhard, 168th Maintenance Squadron commander. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way our maintainers generated the iron and owned our obligation to fuel Red Flag.”

Red Flag provides valuable training in planning and executing combat missions. The exercise allows the units to define operations and improve combat effectiveness.

“RF 22-1 is a testament to not only joint interoperability but component interoperability,” said Erhard. “The 354th Fighter Wing developed an outstanding ground refueling plan.”