Red Flag’s “Red Air”: Badass F-15 and F-16 Aggressor fighter jets at Nellis Air Force Base

The Aggressors’ F-15s and F-16s are the most famous and very well known planes of the Nellis’ 57th Wing.

These combat planes with Air Force’s 64th and 65th AGRS (Aggressor Squadron) play an important role in the Red Flag exercises during which they constitute the backbone of an opposing air force whose aim is to threaten strike packages in the same way a modern enemy would do in a real war.

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For this reason, Aggressor aircraft are painted with exotic liveries, inspired or replicating those of the Russian Su-27, Su-35S and PAK-FA or some African country’s Mig-23 Flogger.

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Some Aggressors sport Russian-style markings and insigna whereas they usually use radio callsigns like “Flanker” or “Mig”.

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In this post you can find some images of Aggressors F-15s and F-16s returning to Nellis after a Red Flag 13-3 mission on Feb. 28, 2013.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. The interesting fact is that during the Cold War the aggressor squadrons devoted a lot of time to studying the Soviet air tactics and tried to replicate them. The thing is though, that in some respects it was not necessarily very accurate due to the biased image of the Soviet pilot within the USAF. E.g. in case of Viktor Belenko, the US had an image of Soviet PIlot being equivalent to the Western ones. It turned out that MiG-25 was rather (citing 1976 NYT article) ‘a manned rocket’ than an interceptor that would be controlled by the pilot. The role of the Pilot in Foxbat was just to lock-on and pull the trigger, dur to the fact that the plane was following the ground orders. The topic of Soviet pilot training and tactics is a long story though.

    • The FSU (former soviet union) GCI (ground control intercept) controllers were essentially flying the jet from the ground. Your data the Hokkaido defection in 76 is correct but mostly in regard to g-force sustainability at speed. If you look up “Constant Peg” you will see the AF was actually flying MiGs in the desert in Nevada so that was where we got most of our data. Steve Davis wrote a very good book called ” Red Eagles” about that program.

  2. The “WA” tail flash is assigned to the 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada, the “WA” does not mean Washington state.

  3. The USA during the Clinton administration did buy approx 20-22 MiG-29 Fulcrum Cs from Moldova as Iran was allegdly attempting to buy them. These Fulcrums had the wiring to carry tactical nuclear weapons and the administration did not want Iran to acquire these aircraft and made a cash offer for the aircraft and spares. Two of them are currently on static display at Nellis AFB and NAS Fallon.

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