Air Force

February 14, 2014

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-1

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Joshua Kleinholz
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office

Two F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, park on the Nellis AFB, Nev., flightline as the sun sets Feb.10. More than 3,200 service members and 125 aircraft from joint U.S. and allied combat forces from around the world are currently participating in Red Flag 14-1, hosted by the 414th Combat Training Squadron. The main objective of the exercise is to increase the capabilities of combat force for future threats.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — For the last two weeks the skies over Las Vegas have been constantly alive; a living, breathing, anthem of airpower signifying Red Flag is at full throttle.

More than 120 aircraft, along with their supporting cast of international pilots, maintainers and intelligence officers set up shop on the flightline and in various facilities around base. Miles were traveled, preparations were made and countless hours were spent planning: all in the name of Red Flag.

Red Flag 14-1 marks the first iteration of the 414th Combat Training Squadron’s signature air combat exercise since the onset of sequestration in April 2013, which led to the combat air forces being stood down and the cancellation of Red Flag 13-4.

However, the staff at the 414th CTS continued to review scenarios and plan for future Red Flag exercises.

“Planning has been intense,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Nathan Boardman, Red Flag 14-1 team chief, describing the 414th Combat Training Squadron’s efforts in planning this fiscal year’s first exercise.

Boardman, a space and missile operations officer by trade, is the first non-aircrew team chief in the history of Red Flag, just one indicator of the increased focus on the seamless integration of cyber and space assets into Red Flag.

“We’ve been pretty much non-stop since July; coming up with scenarios, handling the logistics, and coordinating with multiple units. Countless hours of planning and pre-coordination go into an exercise of this magnitude,” he said.

He wasn’t kidding.

Red Flag 14-1 was conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 14. Along with the aircraft, more than 3,200 service members from every branch of the U.S. military, along with coalition partners from the Royal Air Force from the United Kingdom and the Royal Australian Air Force from Australia, came from across the world to participate in the excercise.

Participants flew a projected total of 1,700 sorties for an approximate total of 3,600 flight hours. With the integration of night training missions, combat scenarios typically happened twice a day with wave after wave of aircraft taking off in the early afternoon and afterburners glowing late into the night.

Most of the training happened over the Nevada Test and Training Range, the largest contiguous air and ground space available for peacetime military operations in the free world. The NTTR also serves as the arena for the intense simulated confrontations between the Blue Force, made up of U.S. joint and coalition forces, and the Red Force, a group of U.S. Airmen trained in the use of adversary tactics and equipment organized under the 57th Adversary Tactics Group. The 2.9 million acre mile range provides 5,000 square miles of airspace for the realistic training of aircrews to prepare them for future conflicts or war. A wide variety of live munitions can also be employed on targets on the range.

“The environment that we provide is just second to none,” Boardman said. “The things that they can see out there, the things that they can do out there – they don’t get that anywhere else.”

RAAF No.77 Squadron Group Capt. Robert Chipman knows that better than anyone else.

“The immersion into the fog of war is just phenomenal in Red Flag, and that’s what really sets it apart from any other exercises we’ve participated in,” Chipman said. “You’re expected to be ready to perform in a complex air environment on Day 1.”

While the aircrews soared over the NTTR duking it out with the aggressors and intelligence officers fought off “enemy” cyber and space attacks at the Combined Air Operations Center–Nellis, aircraft maintainers on the ground fought a “battle” of their own ensuring the aircraft were ready to go at all hours — day or night.

“Every single aircraft we have that’s mission capable is on the [flying] schedule,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ron Eckman, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Viper Aircraft Maintenance Unit production superintendent. “That drastically expands our scope of responsibility, and we’re accomplishing that mission with the same amount of people.”

Eckman has experienced multiple Red Flags, both as an Airman and now as a production superintendent, and explains that he still gets a high level of satisfaction from being a part of it.

“It’s one of those challenges you’re always looking forward to – a time to shine, and an opportunity to put our best foot forward,” Eckman said. “I love seeing these [coalition military units] here knowing they’ve come from all around the world to work towards a common purpose.”

With Red Flag 14-1 winding down, the flightline won’t be peaceful for long. Red Flag 14-2 is set to hit the skies just three weeks later starting March 3.

“The fact is that in some past conflicts, and in all future conflicts, we’ll need to work together as a coalition – we need to understand the capabilities that our foreign partners bring to the fight,” Boardman said. “Red Flag gives us all the opportunity to learn how to work together, that opportunity is essential.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Red Flag offers B-52 crews training that ‘can’t be beat’

U.S. Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadon, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., taxis for take off during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 15. T...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle

‘Thunder’ rolls at Fort Irwin

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Airmen assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., look on as an A-10 Thunderbolt II departs from the National Training Center at Fort I...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd

Hill activates their first F-35 fighter squadron

U.S. Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd Lt. Col. George R. Watkins addresses the audience and squadron members during the 34th Fighter Squadron activation ceremony July 17 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The 34th FS will be the fir...
 

 

Nellis celebrates successful Vacation Bible School

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The Nellis Chapel has done it again with the 18th and best year of Vacation Bible School ever. This year’s theme of Science, provided by Gospel Light’s Son Sparks Labs, proved to be engaging and fun for all 192 children and volunteers. Discovering the light of God in a...
 
 

The unseen leader

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — Over the years, I’ve seen many leaders come and go. The ones I admired, I took note of the traits I wished I had, as well as the ones I already possessed. It took me a long time to realize some of my personal and professional weaknesses were...
 
 

Donald Rumsfeld visits Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld interacts with a service member during a book signing and meet-and-greet at the Base Exchange, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 16, 2015. Rumsfeld is the youngest and oldest individual ever to sit in the Defense Secretary position,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>