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Combat Training: Red tails represent 187th Fighter Wing at Red Flag 17-2

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hayden Johnson
  • 187th Fighter Wing
The 187th Fighter Wing, Montgomery Regional Air National Guard Base, Ala., participated in Red Flag 17-2 which ended March 10, 2017, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.


Red Flag is a realistic combat training exercise involving the air, space and cyber forces of the U.S. and its allies and is conducted on 2.9 million acres, ground and air, on the Nevada Test and Training Range.


“We are able to integrate and see the capabilities of different assets that are available to us, some of which we may be fighting with on future deployments,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Tyler “Kenny” Hill, the project officer for Red Flag 17-2, 100th Fighter Squadron, Montgomery Regional ANGB, Ala. “I’d say this is the only place you can actually plan for and execute a 100 airplane vul[nerabilty].


Red Flag dates back to the Vietnam War where, at the time, the U.S. lost many lives and aircraft because many pilots had not seen combat, Hill said. Red Flag was then created for the purpose of simulating the first ten combat missions to young pilots, and continues today to integrate with other forces and maintain mission readiness.


Aircraft and personnel deploy to Nellis AFB, Nev. for Red Flag under the Air Expeditionary Force concept and make up the exercises “Blue” forces. By working together, these Blue forces are able to utilize the diverse capabilities of their aircraft to execute specific missions, such as air interdiction, combat search and rescue, close air support, dynamic targeting and defensive counter air. These forces use various tactics to attack NTTR targets, such as mock airfields, vehicle convoys, tanks, parked aircraft, bunkered defensive positions and missile sites. These targets are defended by a variety of simulated “Red” force ground and air threats to give participant aircrews the most realistic combat training possible.


“On the day vul[nerability] and night vul[nerability], there’s approximately 100 jets all flying in about a 160-mile airspace,” Hill said. “It’s a place where we can integrate the forces, U.S. and international, all in one exercise.”


With aircrew’s being able to work with one another, other units, such as maintenance and operations, can become familiar with working away from their individual home units.


“A Red Flag mission allows us to operate at a deployed tempo base,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Kendrick, an aircrew flight equipment technician with the 187th Operations Support Squadron. “You’re away from your natural habitat, and you're operating in close quarters, not an open floor plan. The tempo is a lot different. It’s more of a mission expected tempo versus at home being just a standard sortie.”


For many Airmen, this was the first time participating in a realistic training exercise such as Red Flag.


“Red Flag has shown me how important my job is by keeping the F-16’s mission-ready,” said Airman 1st Class Seth Morgan, a crew chief with the 187th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “Red Flag prepares the entire unit for deployments, and it’s excellent training for maintenance personnel. One of the many benefits Red Flag has to offer is the opportunity to interact with Total Force Airmen and many different squadrons around the world.”


Red Flag provides an opportunity for the 187th FW aircrew, maintainers, and operations units the ability to enhance their tactical operational skills alongside military aircraft from coalition forces.


“There’s really no other place you’re going to be able to train like this then Red Flag,” Hill said.