Pacific Air Forces has started Cope Thunder 2006, an annual air combat training exercise that will run through Oct. 21. More than 1,000 active duty and Air National Guard airmen along with 87 aircraft will take part in PACAF’s largest air combat exercise, which is conducted out of Eielson AFB, Alaska, and nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base. This year’s exercises will focus on large force employment training as well as close air support, combat search and rescue, time sensitive targeting, and B-1B Lancer missions from overseas and continental US locations, according to Lt. Col. Eddie Osteen, director of operations for the 353rd Combat Training Squadron.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.