NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The skies above Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, have been dominated by the presence of F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron for Red Flag 16-4.
It is a welcomed occasion for pilots, weapons systems officers and support staff to integrate and execute sorties with joint service and U.S. allies to operate as one cohesive team.
For 1st Lt. Drew Lyons, 492nd FS, F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, and 1st Lt. J. Paul Reasner, 492nd FS, F-15E Strike Eagle weapon systems officer, it is a chance to embrace what they bring to the fight as an aircrew participating at Red Flag for the first time.
“This is an excellent opportunity to train with our allies in a realistic contested environment that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world,” said Reasner.
Exercises like Red Flag provide each aircrew with a series of intense air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios that require them to work together with precision and execution.
“This is a one-of-a-kind experience, as an aircrew, our tactical crew coordination has to be pristine for our aircraft to be most effective in combat,” said Lyons. “Our goal here at Red Flag is to make the most of this opportunity and become better wingmen.”
What makes the F-15E Strike Eagle so lethally unique is that it allows the pilot to focus on air-to-air threats while the WSO places their attention on air-to-ground targets simultaneously; Providing the aircrew with an enhanced situational awareness of the battlefield.
At the conclusion of every sortie, a debrief is held to provide critical training points to each aircrew and afford both U.S. and foreign aviators an opportunity to benefit from each other’s experience.
“This is quality training and a unique opportunity that we have to fly with our allies; it means a great deal to everyone involved and is something that we need to continue with in the future,” said Reasner.
The 492nd will continue to fly sorties in support of Red Flag 16-4 until the end of August. Red Flag is the U.S. Air Force’s premier air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training exercise and one of a series of advanced training programs that is administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and executed through the 414th Combat Training Squadron.