report by: Thierry Letellier
After my initial stop in Alaska my next destination was north las Vegas to catch some pictures from Red flag 15-4 .This Red flag which concluded here Aug.28, will close out this year’s 40th anniversary of Red Flag hosted by Nellis Air Force Base. Facilitated by the 414th Combat Training Squadron (414 CTS) and utilizing the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), Red Flag is the largest and most realistic aerial combat training exercise in the world.
The highlights of this Flag were clearly the Middle Eastern participants. The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) brought five F-16s and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) brought five F-15D Baz and five F-15I Ra’am aircraft. It’s not often you see units from either Air Force here in the US, and even rarer to see both at the same time. They had flown together across the Atlantic, refueled by two IAF KC-707 Re’em tankers. The Jordanian Vipers bore standard overall grey paint schemes, but the Israeli F-15Is were camouflaged with desert browns and greens and the F-15Ds, although grey, at least had interesting artwork on their tails. Joining them on the Blue team were numerous F-16 units from across the US.
U.S. DoD participants included: F-16’s from the 311th Fighter Squadron (311 FS) “Sidewinders” out of Holloman AFB in New Mexico, the 457th Fighter Squadron (457 FS) “Spads” out of NAS Fort Worth JRB in Texas and the 77th Fighter Squadron (77 FS) “The Gamblers” out of Shaw AFB in South Carolina. Other DoD aircraft included: E-3’s, KC-135’s, C-17’s and an E-8. To add more different pictures , early on the second morning ; we had the chance see practicing two IFR procedures with an EA-18G and an F/A-18E from [ COMOPTEVFOR ] VX-9 at NAWS China-Lake. After that they returned to China Lake.
Red Flag participiants:
McDonnell Douglas F-15D Baz, IAF 106 Squadron “Spearhead”, Tel Nof Airbase, Israel
McDonnell Douglas F-15I Ra’am, IAF 69 Squadron “Hammers”, Hatzerim Airbase, Israel
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon, USAF 55 FS “Fighting Fifty Fifth”, Shaw AFB
General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon, RJAF 1 Squadron, Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, Jordan
General Dynamics F-16D Fighting Falcon, USAF 457th Fighter Squadron, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas
General Dynamics F-16D Fighting Falcon, USAF 425 FS “Thunderbolts”, Luke AFB (Republic of Singapore Air Force)
Boeing KC-707 Re’em, IAF 120 Squadron “Desert Giants”, Nevatim Airbase, Israel
Boeing E-3G Sentry AWACS, USAF 960 AACS, Tinker AFB
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, USAF 437AW, Charleston AFB
EA-18G Growlers of VAQ-131 “Lancers” from NAS Whidbey Island
F-22 Raptor squadron from Hawaii
57th Wing, 64th Aggressor Squadron, F-16Cs, Nellis AFB, NV
For the second summer in a row, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has participated in a Red Flag exercise. As they did in Red Flag 14-3, the 425th Fighter Squadron (425 FS) “Black Widows” based at Luke AFB, participated with its Block 52 F-16 C/D Fighting Falcons. The 425 FS is a USAF squadron with a mission to provide advanced fighter training for the RSAF’s F-16 pilots under the auspices of the Peace Carvin agreements. Peace Carvin is a series of agreements under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Peace Carvin agreements provide the terms of the FMS which includes the type of aircraft, the training that will be provided and any other terms of the sale. Sales of the Block 52 F-16 C/D aircraft to the RSAF are under Peace Carvin II.
Red Flag 15-4 saw the return of Virtual Red Flag in the form of Coalition Virtual Flag 15. Coalition Virtual Flag 15 included participation of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with the E-7A Wedgetail and the C-130J Super Hercules. Coalition Virtual Flag 15 presented some of the same challenges to pilots as Red Flag 15-4 presented, while avoiding the logistic and cost issues associated with actual participation. To conclude this trip, i would say that is was a little bit challenging to proceed outside the base whith those terrific temperatures. But the participants and perfect weather were more than a significant compensation.