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.”
Las Vegas Backstage Access has learned that a Canadian jet fighter dropped his full fuel tanks in a populated Las Vegas area and then made an emergency landing after losing power in one of its two engines.
The CF-18 was en route from Las Vegas to El Centro, California last Saturday afternoon when the problem occurred. The pilot reportedly jettisoned the plane’s external fuel tanks, which officials say landed about 500-metres from some civilians that still live in Las Vegas, and one kilometre west of busy Interstate 15.
Miraculously, no one was injured. The jet fighter made a safe landing at Nellis Air Force Base, 13-kilometres northeast of Las Vegas.
A Nellis spokesman simply said it’s safer to land an aircraft without the additional weight of full fuel tanks.
The cause of the power loss is currently under investigation.
Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas hosted President Barack Obama today giving him an up close tour of the 140-acre solar photovoltaic array that has been running since December 2007. The installation at Nellis is the largest of it’s kind in the United States and an example of how solar energy can be captured and processed in a sun-soaked state.
The Nellis power plant was funded by NV Energy in return for energy credits which may be sold to other utilities. The Air Force buys their power at reduced rates and rough estimates indicate that the solar array could save the service $1 million per year or $40 million over the 40 year lifespan of the project.
While at Nellis, President Obama gave a speech at the Thunderbirds’ hanger to 400 airmen and other base personnel about the progress made during the first 100 days of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Obama said the expectation is that there will be more than $467 million in stimulus money used “to expand and accelerate the development, deployment and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.” Nevada is in line for more than $1.5 billion dollars in Recovery Act funds.
Today’s event followed the Tuesday night Caesars Palace fundraiser for Democratic Senator Harry Reid that the President attended.
President Obama will leave Nevada for Los Angeles later today where he will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.