Perhaps not as well known as the hunting season in Idaho or the ski season in Vermont, Red Flag season in Las Vegas means increased activity in the sky above and around the city. It’s a little extra noise and traffic for North Las Vegas locals to endure but for military personnel, Red Flag training exercises are an opportunity to immerse themselves in situations which would be encountered in actual combat.
Essentially, there are two teams made up of personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom. The Red team is the “aggressor” defending key targets including missile sites, tanks and airfields. The Blue team has one mission – to attack the targets.
The event, running Monday, January 25 to Friday, February 5, will be conducted on the 15,000 square mile Nevada Test and Training Range north of the city of Las Vegas. Participating aircraft will depart Nellis Air Force Base twice each day, first in the mid-afternoon and later in the evening.
Photo at right is of a F/A-18 Hornet blasting through the sun’s rays, supplied courtesy of photographer Mike Stotts.
For the first time in 16 years, Red Flag will include members from the 93rd Fighter Squadron and Maintenance Squadron from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida. And the Homestead ARB F-16 “Mako” will be included in the aerial training exercises.
“Participating in Red Flag is a huge milestone for the Air Force Reserve Command,” says Lt. Col. David W. Smith, 93rd FS commander. “This is the best training in the world to prepare pilots for integrated joint operations in the most robust air-to-air and air-to-ground combat threat environment.”