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The Big Gun in Pacific Air Exercises: Airmen have come to Alaska from seven nations and NATO to participate in Cooperative Cope Thunder 06-3—soon to be dubbed a Red Flag-Alaska—which officials call the largest multi-lateral air combat exercise in the Pacific. All total there are some 1,300 participants and untold number of observers from Bangladesh, Mexico, Mongolia, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Sweden sent seven Gripen fighters for their first entry into CCT. From Germany, Capt. Helmut Shafer, a navigator on a C-160 transport, said it was the first time for most of his fellow airmen, adding that he wanted to gain low level and maneuver protection training. Setting up the exercise took some eight months of preparation, according to Maj. Scott Lew, chief of airlift operations at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The exercise, which runs through Aug. 5, is being flown out of both Elmendorf and Eielson Air Force Bases.