NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Pilots, maintainers, support people and F-16 Fighting Falcons from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are participating in both Red Flag 13-2 and Green Flag 13-3 until Feb. 1.
This is the first time the 480th Fighter Squadron has participated in both flag exercises at the same time.
The 480th FS is scheduled to fly 22 sorties a day in support of both exercises and is flying a 12-10 schedule, which means 12 flights are flown during the day and 10 missions are flown at night the first week of the exercises.
“We are prioritizing our schedule between the two exercises based in part on tanker availability. This allows us to take advantage of the periods when Green Flag has a tanker available, allowing us to get the largest possible volume of training on every sortie,” said Lt. Col. Cameron Caroom, 480th FS commander.
Taking part in a Red or Green Flag comes with challenges, but supporting both at the same time with a blended unit presents its own unique challenges. The squadron is being augmented by more than 50 Airmen from the 555th FS out of Aviano AB, Italy. Another challenge is having people located in Red and Green Flag buildings as well as the maintenance Airmen in a hanger on the flight line. Having the unit separated like this can make for a scheduling problem.
“We are treating this like the playoffs, if everyone does their job, we will be OK,” said Capt. Joseph Miranda, 480th FS pilot, “Our Airmen are very skilled at their jobs.”
The commander agrees with this sentiment.
“ All of our Airmen are doing a great job; merging pilots from two squadrons to operate together performing three very different missions close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, and defensive counter-air in two very different airspaces with four different sets of special instructions is an enormous challenge. By the end of the exercise, we will have flown 13 straight days and 21 out of 24 days that we have been TDY. To maintain the level of performance these guys have demonstrated [during] the course of these two exercises is a true testament to the professionalism and capability of our Airmen — all of them. We could not fly the jets as hard as we have here without a complete team effort from the entire [operations] and maintenance team.” Caroom said.
Pilots are pushed to learn a lot in a short amount of time since both exercises only last a couple of weeks.
“The Red and Green Flag training we get is what we will see down range,” said Capt. Lance Ferguson, 480th FS pilot, “I feel this training is worth the time and money to come from Germany.”
Red Flag and Green Flag have different missions.
Red Flag is organized and run by the 414th Combat Training Squadron, and is a realistic combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies.
Green Flag-West is organized and run by the 549th Combat Training Squadron. This exercise provides realistic air-land integration combat training involving the air forces of the United States and its allies and is held in conjunction with U.S. Army combat Training Center exercises at Fort Irwin, Calif.
(This is part one of a two part series on the 480th Fighter Squadron’s participation in Red and Green Flags.)