Defense

February 14, 2014

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-1

red-flag
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.


 
 

 

Headlines July 31, 2015

News: Carter: Military leaders could arm more troops at home – Following the recent fatal shooting of four Marines and a sailor in Tennessee, Defense Secretary Ash Carter is ordering the military services to consider new policies that would enhance security for troops at home, including potentially arming more personnel.   Business: DOD weighs supplier base,...
 
 

News Briefs July 31, 2015

U.S. delivering eight newer F-16 warplanes to Egypt The United States Embassy in Cairo says the U.S. is delivering eight newer F-16 warplanes to Egypt as part of an ongoing military support package. It says in a July 30 statement that the aircraft, of the current Block 52 production variant, will be flown in from...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin successfully tests design changes for Orion spacecraft’s fairing separation system

Lockheed Martin photograph A protective panel for Orion’s service module is jettisoned during testing at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California facility. This test series evaluated design changes to the spacecraft’s fair...
 

 

Australian company to provide parts for initial production of Triton UAS

Northrop Grumman has awarded the first Australian supplier contract for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system initial production lot to Ferra Engineering. Brisbane-based Ferra Engineering will manufacture mechanical sub-assemblies for the first four Triton air vehicles including structural components. “At Northrop Grumman it’s very important to not only develop...
 
 
Boeing photograph

CH-46 ‘Phrog’ makes its last hop

Boeing photograph The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter commonly known as the “Phrog,” is set to retire and to be flown one last time by Reserve Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 774 on Aug. 1. The CH-46 Sea Knight is a med...
 
 

Insitu awarded LRIP Lot IV RQ-21A Blackjack Systems contract

Under the terms of its latest contract, Insitu will build six RQ-21A Blackjack systems for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The $78-million Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Lot IV Low Rate Initial Production contract is the latest event in the program’s progression toward the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation phase.   “This award will...
 




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>