FAIRBANKS - Jet fighters are soaring over the Interior as Eielson Air Force Base hosts its first Red Flag Alaska combat training exercise of 2010.
The 12-day exercise, which concludes Friday, combat training for airmen preparing to head to Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of the airmen are from bases as far away as South Korea and Japan.
Past exercises have included international partners, but only U.S. airmen and Marines are participating in this round.
The primary benefit of training in Alaska is the 67,000 square miles of air space, the most available in the United States. Capt. Mike Waites, a B-52 pilot, said the space is particularly useful when piloting the bulk bomber.
"My expectations have all been met and exceeded," said Waites, who first became familiar with Red Flag after watching an IMAX movie about the exercises several years ago.
The noise from the extra flights has generated the usual noise complaints, said Staff Sgt. James Stewart, the Eielson spokesman. He notes that this is the first year he has received calls from people saying they enjoy hearing the roar.
The next Red Flag is scheduled for June and the third is set for August.