NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The red force’s simulated enemy plays a critical role as the opposing force during Red Flag 14-1 by providing U.S. and coalition combat forces from around the world challenges for tomorrow’s threats.
The aggressor program started as a direct result of a high air combat loss rate experience during the Vietnam War. The tactics the 64th Aggressor Squadron use during Red Flag are designed to train pilots for a higher survivability rate within their first 10 sorties in combat situations.
The 64th AGRS motto is “Know, Teach and Replicate.” The squadron achieves this by challenging joint and allied aircrews with training scenarios in the same way adversary air forces would do in a real war.
“We know our adversaries better than anyone else in the Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Gordon, 64th AGRS commander.
The squadron’s objective during each training scenario is to provide the blue forces, or joint and allied combat forces, threats to achieve a desired learning outcome for each mission.
“Our subject matter experts teach academics to a wide range of audiences across our sister services and to our allied partners in order to bring the collective knowledge of everyone to the level required for our warfighters to be successful,” Gordon said. “Finally, we replicate the threats our blue forces might face anywhere in the world. We do not replicate a certain country’s adversary; rather, we replicate a capability of various aircraft platforms to train our blue forces on how adversaries will employ them in combat.”
The agressors replicate a realistic combat environment over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range in F-16 Fighting Falcons.
To provide a realistic training scenario, the aircraft assigned to the 64th AGRS paint schemes vary and are a unique aspect of their mission. The aircraft are inspired to replicate near peer adversaries markings and insignias.
During Red Flag, the 64th AGRS is part of the red force threat package. The red force threats are aligned under the 57th Adversary Tactics Group. The group spans across all domains to include space, information, cyber, surface-to-air, and air.
“We bring the fight to our blue forces not as singletons operating independently in our own stovepipe, but rather collectively to increase our capabilities as a whole.” Gordon said. “The impacts we bring not only happen at the tactical level, say for instance one of our F-16s replicating a Su-27 Flanker trading shots with a blue F-15.”
The 57th ATG brings strategic impacts through U.S. Air Force-wide air, air defense, space and information aggressor’s initiatives, and threats academic programs.
“The exercise always starts out as a sparring partner, and [blue forces] don’t know what to expect,” said Major Eric Flattern, 57th Adversary Tactics Support Squadron and red force chief of adversary weapons, “We put one arm behind our backs and try to bloody their noses a little bit. It turns out blue forces are resilient because no one likes blood on their face. The good news is they are stepping up to the plate and actually moving forward throughout the week. Ultimately, it would be fantastic if they completely crushed us, but at the same time, it wouldn’t be fair if we went out there
and made it easy for them every day.”
After each mission, aircrews debrief on the mocked combine air, ground space and electronic threat environment for an exchange of ideas between forces and how to better prepare for future.
Nellis has hosted Red Flag since its inception in 1975. Three Red Flags are scheduled for this fiscal year, and exercise participants gain experience from red force challenges, thereby providing a credible learning experience.