Air Force

July 12, 2013

Maple Flag brings heat to Great White North

Luke Air Force Base F-16 Fighting Falcons sit on the flightline in Cold Lake, Canada, while participating in Exercise Maple Flag, a variation of the U.S. Air Force Red Flag Exercise held several times a year at Nellis AFB, Nev.

Members of the 425th Fighter Squadron recently participated in Maple Flag, a Canadian directed exercise conducted annually that provides training for warfighters in large-force employment of 50 aircraft at a time.

The exercise, which took place at Cold Lake, Canada, was designed to give real-world experience to participants and promote the ability of allied nations to work together. Ten nations, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, came together to practice combat tactics in an international training environment.

The opportunity to work with allied nations was a great experience, said Maj. Nicholas Holmes, 425th FS assistant director of operations.

“Working with coalition partners with a common goal in mind was an invaluable experience,” he said. “We can simulate this type of practice at home, but this type of scenario adds the true complexity of real-world operations.”

According to the Royal Canadian Air Force website, “Exercise Maple Flag is a Canadian variation of the U.S. Air Force Red Flag Exercise, held several times a year at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.”

The RCAF website also provides insight as to how Maple Flag came to be.

“Both exercises were developed in response to a Vietnam War finding that 90 percent of aircraft losses took place during the first ten combat missions.”

Capt. Kwan Quek, 425th Fighter Squadron fighter weapons instructor, attended the exercise and said it falls perfectly in line with the 425th FS mission statement.

“Our mission statement is to conduct high-end training for the Republic of Singapore air force,” Quek said. “While benchmarking against the best in the world we were able to learn from others while fulfilling our mission statement.”

Quek also said knowledge learned here at Luke contributed to the success of the RSAF in the exercise.

“Due to training here at Luke, from mission planning to technical execution, we were able to participate at maximum capacity,” Quek said.

It wasn’t only those who participated in the actual exercise that made the event possible.

“I am very proud of the 425th as a whole. They safely moved 122 personnel, 21 pallets of equipment and completed 154 sorties without a hitch,” Holmes said. “I would also like to extend a huge thank you to the 56th Operations Support Squadron and 56th Security Forces Squadron for working extra hours and weekends to help us conclude our exercise when the airfield is normally closed.”

Multiple resources, including maintenance and ground forces were vital to making Maple Flag possible, Quek said.

“It’s a realistic training scenario not just for our pilots but for our maintainers as well,” he said. “Thanks to their efforts, every single one of our jets got off the ground successfully.”

Maple Flag utilized the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which consists of 4,478 square miles of land, and is the only tactical bombing range in Canada.




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