Thursday, February 26, 2009

Red Flag 09-3 exercise begins

by Mike Estrada, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Blog Note: For my friends out in Vegas. Hope we have some who monitor and can pass along some freqs and callsigns. Thanks de Chief sends.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- Southern Nevada residents may have notice increased military aircraft activity as the latest Red Flag exercise began Feb. 23.

Red Flag is a realistic combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies. The exercise is conducted on the 15,000-square-mile Nevada Test and Training Range, north of Las Vegas. Red Flag is one of a series of advanced training programs administered by officials at the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and at Nellis, through the 414th Combat Training Squadron.

Red Flag 09-3 will be different from previous exercises, adding an extra week to the traditional two-week exercise.

"The extra week will test the feasibility and effectiveness of adding focused mission training," said Maj. Keith Lowman, the Red Flag 09-3 team chief. "Our goal is to provide tailored training during the third week by focusing on close-air support and combat search and rescue for aircrews who frequently support ground forces, sometimes dropping weapons within a few hundred feet of friendly troops. The additional training will better prepare our Airmen for combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world."

An Army Patriot missile unit from Ft. Bragg, N.C. , has established a base at the Alamo airfield, about 90 miles north of Nellis AFB. Radar, missile and communications equipment has been set up in Delmar Valley, west of Caliente, Nev. Army participants are focusing on establishing communications with airborne units and identifying friendly and enemy aircraft.

Flying for Red Flag 09-3 began Feb. 23 and will end March 13. About 80 aircraft will depart Nellis twice a day. Flying times are scheduled to accommodate the other flying missions at Nellis and provide Red Flag participants with valuable night-time training.

In addition to the aircraft from Nellis AFB and nearby Creech AFB, U.S. aircraft will come from Virginia, Idaho, California, Maryland, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio, Florida and Germany. Aircraft types will include F-22 Raptors, F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F/EF-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, KC-135 Stratotankers and a KC-10 Extender.

In addition to U.S. aircraft, the United Kingdom will be flying F-3 Tornados, and the Royal Australian Air Force will be flying F-111s. Both allied countries will also fly C-130 cargo aircraft.