An E-3 AWACS command and control aircraft participating in Cope Tiger in the Pacific couldn’t complete an aerial refueling with a KC-135 because of bad weather, but instead of canceling its mission, the E-3 crew flew back to Korat RTAB, Thailand, to ground refuel some 65,000 pounds and then rejoined the exercise. “I’ve seen such a quick turn only once in my 20 years of flying AWACS missions,” said Maj. David Alexander, a 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron mission crew commander. The E-3 belongs to the 962nd AACS at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, but was flying with a mixed crew including airmen from the 961st at Kadena AB, Japan. The 961st AACS E-3 is down for maintenance, so Elmendorf provided the aircraft for this rendition of Cope Tiger. (Cope Tiger report by Capt. Renee Lee)
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.