report by: Thierry letellier
Red Flag is a realistic combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies, is coordinated at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and conducted on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range. It is one of a series of advanced training programs administered by the United States Air Force Warfare Center and Nellis and executed through the 414th Combat Training Squadron. Aircraft and personnel deploy to Nellis for RED FLAG under the Air Expeditionary Force concept and make up the exercise’s “Blue” forces. By working together, these Blue forces are able to utilize the diverse capabilities of their aircraft to execute specific missions, such as air interdiction, combat search and rescue, close air support, dynamic targeting and defensive counter air.
These forces use various tactics to attack NTTR targets such as mock airfields, vehicle convoys, tanks, parked aircraft, bunkered defensive positions and missile sites. These targets are defended by a variety of simulated “Red” force ground and air threats to give participant aircrews the most realistic combat training possible. The Red force threats are aligned under the 57th Adversary Tactics Group, which controls seven squadrons of USAF Aggressors, including fighter, space, information operations and air defense units. The Aggressors are specially trained to replicate the tactics and techniques of potential adversaries and provide a scalable threat presentation to Blue forces which aids in achieving the desired learning outcomes for each mission. A typical RED FLAG exercise involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft ,air superiority aircraft airlift support, search and rescue aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft, Command and Control aircraft as well as ground based Command and Control, Space, and Cyber Forces ; conducted on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range ( NTTR ).
The skies above Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada have been dominated by the presence of F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron for Red Flag 16-4. It is a welcomed occasion for pilots, weapons systems officers and support staff to integrate and execute sorties with joint service and U.S. allies to operate as one cohesive team. What makes the F-15E Strike Eagle so lethally unique is that it allows the pilot to focus on air-to-air threats while the WSO places their attention on air-to-ground targets simultaneously; Providing the aircrew with an enhanced situational awareness of the battlefield. At the conclusion of every sortie, a debrief is held to provide critical training points to each aircrew and afford both U.S. and foreign aviators an opportunity to benefit from each other’s experience.
During Red Flag, one such piece to the puzzle would be suppression of enemy air defenses which has been around since the days of the Wild Weasels. The rule was played by the F-16CM Fighting Falcon from 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The F-16CM Fighting Falcon, a modified model designated as a block 50, specializes in the suppression of enemy air defenses by having an avionics ability to detect threats. Without the block 50’s unique role friendly forces would be more at risk from the surface-to-air missile systems Some other notable F-15 where identified : 159th FW 159th OG (LA ANG) 122nd FS F-15C / F-15D JZ – 366FW / 366OG ( ACC ) 391st FS F-15E Bold Tigers MO – Surprisingly ; they were not reported to take part of this exercice …..
Also taking part to this Red Flag session ; a group of foreign delegations where we can find:
SPANISH AF ALA12 121 Esc. 122 Esc. EF-18M /EF-18BM
ALA 15 151 Esc. EF-18M /EF-18BM
ALA 31 312 Esc. KC-130H TK.10
PAKISTAN Air Force 39 Wing 5sq F-16 F-16D Falcons
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Air Force
Shaheen 1 sq F-16E F-16F
Shaheen 2 sq F-16E F-16F
Shaheen 3 sq F-16E F-16F
ISRAELI Air Force
120sq B707 Phalcon KC707 Re’em
119sq F-16I Sufa The Bat Squadron
201sq F-16I Sufa The One Squadron
253sq F-16I Sufa The Negev Squadron
As usual; due to the context of the participants, there were no media-day. But Globalairpower was satisfied to be able to catch this collection of rare aircraft, united for this exercice.