RED FLAG 11-02 NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Red Flag 11-2 began here Jan. 24, sending its first pilots into a simulated combat environment designed to give aircrew members the skills needed to survive in war. "The mission of every Red Flag is to expose our combat aircrew to realistic training," said Col. S. Clinton Hinote, Red Flag 11-2 Air Expeditionary Wing commander. "The idea is that if you give them very realistic combat-like training early in their careers then they will make the mistakes that most people are going to make in the training environment." Making mistakes in a training environment helps the aircrew learn valuable lessons for real combat. A study conducted during the Vietnam War stated that if a pilot survived his first ten combat missions his chances of survival through the conflict went up exponentially, Colonel Hinote said. Helping the aircrew gain combat experience is a professional aggressor force stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Units assigned to the 57th Adversary Tactics Group act as the "Bad Guys" during Red Flag exercises, trying to stop the deployed forces from accomplishing their mission.

"Today we are going to try to bomb some airfields and they are trying to stop us," Colonel Hinote said. "Some of our folks are going to get shot down and we're going to shoot down some of their folks and we are going to come back and learn from the experience and get better at it." Though the combat missions are the main reason for Red Flag exercises the event has more than one goal. "Some of the main goals of Red Flag 11-2 are large force integration, strengthening coalition partnerships with the United Arab Emirates and Belgium, and bettering coalition interoperability," said Lt. Col. Dewey Smith, Red Flag 11-2 team chief. None of the goals of the exercise can be met, however, if units from across the continental U.S., Europe and the Middle East cannot pull together as a team. "The biggest challenge we will have is creating a coherent fighting team in the space of just a few days" Colonel Hinote said. "Otherwise the enemy aircraft and the enemy surface to air missiles are going to hand us our lunch." Once the team is fighting together they have full intentions to take advantage of the opportunity Red Flag provides. " Red Flag is a gift that has been given to us," Colonel Hinote said. "It is important to be thankful for that because other folks don't get it and we have to take full advantage of this."

E-3B Sentry from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.


The highlight of the exercise were the F-16E/F Desert Falcons from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These Block 60 Fighting Falcons have many upgrades and external differences to the USAF Vipers that took part in this Red Flag. The Desert Falcon is equipped with the APG-80 Agile Beam Radar which is an electronically-scanned array (AESA) system that provides the pilot improved situational awareness (SA), improved detection and air to ground performance. The cockpit has three large 5x7 colour Multi-Functional Display (MFD) screens that help reduce pilot workload and increase SA. The Integrated Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) and Targeting System (IFTS) is also unique to this variant, a nav FLIR turret is located on the upper portion of the nose while the targeting pod is mounted on the port side of the air inlet. The Desert Falcon also uses a new Electronic Warfare suite known as Falcon Edge. A major performance improvement with the Block 60 is a new engine, the General Electric F110-GE-132 with a thrust of 32,000lbs. The new engine compensates for the increase weight with the new systems in the Viper to keep it's 9 G performance. Another external difference in the Desert Falcon are the Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT) mounted bilaterally down the spine of the fuselage that increase the operational range of the F-16E/F. These tanks are not permanent and can be removed in an hour by the ground crew. The UAE operates 55 single seat F-16E and 25 twin seat F-16F's, during Red Flag six Desert Falcons particpated for each mission.

F-15C pilot after another scuccesful mission during Trdient Fury.


F-15C Eagle422nd TES "Green Bats", Nellis AFB USA
F-16C Fighting Falcon64th AGRES "Agrressors", Nellis AFBUSA
B-1B Lancer34 BS "Thunderbirds", Ellsworth AFB, South DakotaUSA
F-16C/D Fighting Falcon480th FS "WARHAWKS", Spangdahlem AB, GermanyUSA
F-16E Desert Falcon1 Sqn, 16 Sqn - Al Dhafra ABUNITED ARAB EMIRATES
A-10C Warthog303rd FS "KC Hawgs", Whiteman AFB, Missouri USA
E-3B Sentry AWACS962 AACS Tinker AFB, OklahomaUSA
C-130H Hercules934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis IAP USA
C-130H HerculesBelgian Air Force
KC-135 Stratotanker134th ARW, TennesseeUSA
KC-135 Stratotanker171st ARW, PennsylvaniaUSA
C-130H HerculesMoody AFBUSA
B-52H StratofortressBarksdale AFB, LouisianaUSA


I would like to thank the Nellis AFB Public Affairs staff for their support.


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Copyright 2011 - Derek Heyes and Elizabeth Stetar