Defense

March 15, 2017
 

Singapore AF enhances Red Flag 17-2

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Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum
Nellis AFB, Nev.

A Singapore air force CH-47 Chinook flies over the Nevada Test and Training Range, during a Red Flag 17-2 combat search and rescue mission, March 6, 2017. In performing these missions and working with coalition partners, Red Flag allows the members of the Singapore air force to extend their skill set.

As the Singapore CH-47 Chinook’s twin rotors build speed and spin in unison, a loud but calming hum fills the interior of the helicopter. Seven Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) specialists sit with their gear in front of them, parachutes on their backs.

As the drop zone nears, they all stand, connect to a static line back-to-back, and countdown from 10 minutes, to six, to one.

One by one, the specialists jump out of the Chinook. As the static line pulls each parachute, they float to the Nevada Test and Training Range completing a combat insertion training mission during Red Flag 17-2, hosted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

For 20 years in Grand Prairie, Texas, the Singapore air force has worked in unison with its pilots, air crews and the United States Army. The unit came to Red Flag 17-2 to train and lend its unique skill set in a multitude of different mission sets.

“The primary mission while here at Red Flag is combat search and rescue, and personnel recovery, with a secondary mission of a few para-drops for the pararescuemen; and then also internal loading and regular troop insertions into the combat area,” said U.S. Army Warrant Officer Jeffry Epperson, standardization pilot assigned to the U.S. Army flight training detachment, Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Complex Hensley Field, Grand Prairie, Texas.

While at Red Flag the Singapore air force is tasked with lending their talents to CSAR and personnel recovery, but they’re not executed without monotonous planning.

A Singapore air force crew chief looks out the window of a CH-47 Chinook during a Red Flag 17-2 combat search and rescue mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range, March 6, 2017. For 20 years in Grand Prairie, Texas, the Singapore air force has worked in unison with its pilots, air crews and the United States Army.

Mission planning begins the day prior in the Red Flag building, and when you take into account the maintenance and operations side it becomes a very lengthy and through process, said Epperson.

In performing these missions, Red Flag allows the members of the Singapore air force to extend their skill set by working and learning how coalition partners operate.

“It’s good for Singapore to broaden their scope, rather than just seeing the Army that augments them,” said Epperson. “They now see the Navy, Spain, Dutch and France and run the gamut of countries that they can work with. Not only does it broaden the scope of their abilities, but also fosters relationships.”

Along with exposing their crew to new allies, Red Flag has served to place the Singapore air force into new exercise conditions.

“Red Flag has helped them a lot,” said Epperson. “It’s a unique exercise where they can get the mission set that the Army doesn’t provide in their exercises. Those exercises are more troop insertion, air assault type missions, but this is CSAR, personnel recovery and working with fighters that they don’t get a lot of. The Singapore air force’s bread and butter back home is CSAR around the ocean and their islands, so it helps them get better here and also when they go back to their home station.”

A Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialist, sits on a CH-47 Chinook before performing a static-line jump over the Nevada Test and Training Range, during Red Flag 17-2, March 7, 2017. A static line is a fixed cord attached to a large, stable object and is used to open parachutes automatically.

Not only has Red Flag exposed the Singapore air force to new variables such as air assault and troop insertion, it also granted new pilots with leadership experience.

“Red Flag has helped Singapore in progressing their younger fliers, helping them learn to not only mission plan, but be leads,” said U.S. Army Capt Eric Maldando, USAFTD operations officer. “They set out the mission set, spoke to what they expected and led the mission. It helps their junior pilots become more experienced and seasoned.”

With these new missions and leadership experiences provided to the Singapore air force by Red Flag, they leave Nellis AFB with new experiences and a bolstered skill set added to their repertoire.
 

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialists sit on a CH-47 Chinook before a static-line jump during Red Flag 17-2 over the Nevada Test and Training Range, Nev., March 7, 2017. Red Flag missions are conducted on the 2.9 million acre Nevada Test and Training Range with 1,900 possible targets, realistic threat systems and opposing enemy forces.

 

A Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialist performs a static line jump out of a CH-47 Chinook during a Red Flag 17-2 mission over the Nevada Test and Training Range, March 7, 2017. Red Flag provides vital training and real world scenarios that progress Singapore Air Force air crews to the next level in their skills.

 

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialists parachute to the ground over the Nevada Test and Training Range, during a Red Flag 17-2 mission, March 7, 2017. SERE specialists build foreign partner relationships, preparing the environment for potential future isolation and enabling flexible recovery options even in the absence of significant American military presence.

 

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialists wait to jump out of a CH-47 Chinook over the Nevada Test and Training Range, during Red Flag 17-2, March 7, 2017. Red Flag provides combat training in a degraded and operationally limited environment making the training missions as realistic as possible.

 

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialist are picked up by a CH-47 Chinook after performing static-line jumps on the Nevada Test and Training Range, during Red Flag 17-2, March 7, 2017. SERE specialists lead the Air Force emergency parachuting program and conduct extensive testing of parachuting systems. They are uniquely suited to analyze the operating environment to plan for evasion, captivity, and recovery considerations.

 

A Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape specialist gives the thumbs up before performing a static-line jump during Red Flag 17-2 over the Nevada Test and Training Range, March 7, 2017. Search and rescue operations during Red Flag improve efficiency and readiness for future real world operations.




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