Red Flag 16-4: challenge issued, challenge accepted

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U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Frank Miller

Maj. Gen. Glen VanHerck, United States Air Force Warfare Center commander, speaks to players of Red Flag 16-4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 14. The first Red Flag exercise took place 40 years ago and has since evolved into one of the world’s most premier combat training exercises a pilot can attend.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 55th Fighter Squadron, from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, brought their “Shawesome” F-16 Fighting Falcon’s to an exercise Air Expeditionary Wing during Red Flag 16-4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Aug. 15, 2016. 

Red Flag 16-4 is scheduled to launch two missions Monday through Friday and will conclude Aug. 26th.

The first Red Flag took place more than 40 years ago and has since evolved into one of the world’s most premier combat training exercises.

“Red Flag provides realistic combat training through integrated warfighting in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment,” said Maj. Eric Gutierrez, 414th Combat Training Squadron staff electronic warfare officer. “It also provides a forum for valuable cross talk between services as well as coalition partners.”

U.S. Air Force maintainers from the 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., ready F-16 Fighting Flacons, 55th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., for takeoff at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 13. In Red Flag 16-4 the 55th FS F-16s will join forces with other air frames such as F-15 Strike Eagles, and EF-18 Super Hornets to fight up to 250 aggressors.

During this Red Flag, Col. Mark Barrera, 23rd Wing vice commander, took charge of players from every service branch, as well as other countries, with goals to integrate everyone together, build a great team, and form lasting partnerships.

Teamwork and partnerships are vital in defeating the 57th Adversary Tactics Group, this exercise’s aggressors.  Red forces threats are aligned under the 57th ATG, which include Aggressor fighters, space, information operations and air defense units. The Aggressors are specially trained to replicate the tactics and techniques of potential adversaries.  

This iteration of Red Flag includes F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15E Strike Eagles and EF-18 Super Hornets, which will fly against a 250-aggressor force lead by Col. Samantha Weeks, 57th ATG commander.

U.S. Air Force maintainers from the 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., ready an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 13. The F-16 Fighting Falcon played an intricate part of Red Flag 16-4 the world’s premiere combat training exercise.

Weeks extended a challenge to AEW forces: “We fight better than you because we do it every day. You will need to come together quickly if you expect to win, because we are the home team. Are you ready to fight? Because we are. We will see tomorrow; the fight’s on.”

The 55th FS and the newly formed Red Flag 16-4 AEW, with its joint and coalition partners, rise to meet the challenge and bring airpower, anytime, anywhere. The challenge has been issued, and accepted, As the 55th motto would say … “Roll ‘em!”
 

An F-16 Fighting Flacon assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., takes off at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 13. A familiarization of the range had been conducted where players in the exercise fought against 250 aggressor forces.