The U.S. Air Force’s three-week premier air-to-air combat training exercise, Red Flag 17-1, began Jan. 23 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and will conclude on Feb. 10.
Due to this, base officials want to remind southern Nevada residents that they may notice increased military aircraft activity.
Aircraft will depart from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., twice a day to participate in joint and coalition combat training missions over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range in one of the Air Force’s largest exercises.
“Red Flag is important because of what it provides,” said Maj. Jeffrey Falanga, 414th Combat Training Squadron director of operations. “It provides our training audience a realistic environment enabling them to practice in all domains–air, ground, space, and cyber–and also to be able to practice interoperability with not only U.S., but joint and coalition forces. Which is important since we’ll operate with these forces in our next engagement.”
With each Red Flag iteration there comes unique aspects, and 17-1 is no different with its integration of fifth generation aircraft assets.
“Our Airmen are excited to bring the F-35 to a full-spectrum combat exercise,” said Col. David Lyons, 388th FW commander. “(The Red Flag) battle space is going to be a great place to leverage our stealth and interoperability. It’s a lethal platform and I’m confident we will prove to be an invaluable asset to the commander.”
The three-week, fourth and fifth generation’ exercise will incorporate the friendly ‘Blue Forces’ against hostile ‘Red Force’ aggressors in live and synthetic training environments, simulating air-to-air, air-to-ground and space and cyber warfare.
“The significance of this Red Flag is that it will be the first time that we have U.S. Air Force F-35 [Lightning II] participation,” said Falanga. “The F-35 will be operating with the F-22 Raptor so there will be additional fifth generation capability and integration that will occur. It is also going to be one of the first times the F-35 operates with coalition assets.”
According to the Red Flag fact sheet, the exercise typically involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, air superiority aircraft, airlift support, search and rescue aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft, command and control aircrafts well as ground based command and control, space, and cyber forces.
Hill fighter wings first to bring F-35A to Red Flag
Pilots and maintainers from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, deployed the F-35A Lightning II to Nellis AFB, Nev., Jan. 20.
This is the first deployment to Red Flag for the F-35A and the first large movement since the Air Force declared the jet combat ready in August 2016.
Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier air-to-air combat training exercise. Participants include both United States and allied nations’ combat air forces. The exercise provides aircrews the experience of multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.
“Our Airmen are excited to bring the F-35 to a full-spectrum combat exercise,” said Col. David Lyons, 388th FW commander.
“This battle space is going to be a great place to leverage our stealth and interoperability. It’s a lethal platform and I’m confident we will prove to be an invaluable asset to the commander.”
The jets will be at Red Flag through Feb. 10. While deployed, the F-35 will fly alongside fourth-and-fifth generation platforms and provide offensive and defensive counter air, suppression of enemy air defenses, and limited close air support.
“Red Flag is hands-down the best training in the world to ensure our Airmen are fully mission ready,” said Col. David Smith, 419th FW commander. “It’s as close to combat operations as you can get. Our Reserve pilots and maintainers are looking forward to putting the F-35A weapon system to the test alongside our active duty partners to bring an unprecedented combat capability.”
The F-35A is a fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter designed to gather, fuse, and distribute more information than any other fighter in history.
The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in October 2015. The base will eventually be home to three operational F-35 fighter squadrons with a total of 78 aircraft by the end of 2019. The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW will fly and maintain the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.