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Latest Red Flag-Alaska Kicks Off: One of Pacific Air Force's premier training events, Red Flag-Alaska, kicked off June 9 as the first sorties roared off the ramp at Eielson Air Force Base. RF-A 08-03 is the third Red Flag in Fiscal 2008 in the state. The objective of the 10-day exercise is to replicate the first eight to 10 combat missions of an air campaign in as realistic an environment as possible. This includes the use of Eielson's 18th Aggressor Squadron, an F-16 unit that plays the role of enemy fighters, the red force, to thwart the friendly blue force’s efforts. The exercise brings about 1,100 additional personnel to Eielson. Forces are also marshaled at Elmendorf Air Force Base to the south near Anchorage. In all, 103 aircraft are participating, including four B-1B bombers that flew in from Dyess AFB, Tex., 16 German Air Force Tornados, and Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15Js. There are also Stinger missile teams taking part. Brig. Gen. Mark Graper, commander of Eielson’s 354th Fighter Wing and the exercise's host, said that one of the challenges—and benefits—of RF-A is its distributed layout over the expansive state (see below). By the end of the exercise, participants will have flown about 2,500 hours in total, according to officials with Eielson’s 353rd Combat Training Squadron, the exercise's caretakers.