Red Flag Alaska: ‘Blue Air’ pilots play good guys of the skies during exercises

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:43 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - While there are many different facets to Red Flag Alaska, they all have one goal, train ‘blue air’ pilots.

“So blue air is the good guys essentially. You know the hero’s of the movie,” said First Lieutenant Joshua Kisbye.

During Red Flag exercises, the 18th Aggressor Squadron, red air, are the bad guys, and they work to train pilots from the U.S. and allied nations.

“Red air provides us a basis through which to measure the success of meeting our objectives. Did we really accomplish what we’re going out against? Because the enemy in any war always has a vote and so they are making sure the enemy has a vote in this simulated war,” said Lt. Kisbye who flies A-10s based out of South Korea. He came to Eielson to participate in Red Flag and said it makes him a better pilot.

“Teams are formed through the crucible of adversity and so here we fail, and we fail every day. With each iteration of that we get slightly, slightly better. We are never going to be perfect but we are always going to be improving,” he said.

While many of the jets at Red Flag Alaska are from U.S. Air Force Bases, there are also jets from allied nations. Captain Shokei Taguchi is an F-15 pilot with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and is at Eielson for training.

“That kind of training is really impressive training and we couldn’t do that in our country,” Taguchi said.

He said he is grateful to be able to use the airspace in Alaska because Japan can’t provide the same kind of training, “I appreciated to joining this Red Flag Alaska, and we have a lot of learning experiences from this exercise.”

Captain Taguchi said the cooperation between countries is impressive. A sentiment that Lt. Kisbye agrees with.

“We’re here to train with all the countries that came and all the platforms that are here to be able to operate better together and really become a team and achieve the commanders objectives whatever they might be,” Lt. Kisbye said.

Red Flag Alaska provides a unique training opportunity, that many of these pilots may never otherwise experience.

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