US Alaska Command launched Exercise Northern Edge last week, bringing some 200 joint-service aircraft and 6,000 military personnel together for a large-scale Pacific defense scenario. “The objective is to make sure our air combat forces are ready as a joint team and to be able to execute real world operations anywhere in the Pacific,” Col. Charles Corcoran, 3rd Wing commander at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, said in a release. “Northern Edge is the premier combat exercise for joint forces … anywhere in the world,” he added. “Alaska has some unique capabilities that you just can’t find anywhere else.” Air Force combat aircraft participating include Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve F-22s, F-15Cs, F-15Es, F-16s, and E-3 AWACS, as well as airlift and tanker support assets staging from Elmendorf and Eielson AFB, Alaska. The exercise runs June 11-26.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.