The world’s most realistic exercise underway at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas

F-22 Raptors, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16s Fighting Falcons as well as RAF Typhoons and Tornados are taking part in Red Flag 14-1

Red Flag, world’s largest and more realistic exercise, has come back after the remaining editions of 2013 were cancelled as a consequence of the budged cuts imposed by the infamous sequestration.

The exercise, organized and conducted by the 414th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base and on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), a military training area of more than 12,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land where about 2,000 possible targets and anti-aircraft systems are dispersed to simulate a realistic battlefield, aims to train pilots from the U.S. and allied air forces to operate, survive and win together in a modern war.

The drills feature also the bad guys, an adversary air force with F-15s and F-16s from the Air Force’s 64th and 65th AGRS (Aggressors Squadrons) whose taks is to threaten strike packages and prevent them to attack their targets.

Aggressors tails

Around 150 aircraft are scheduled to attend this year’s first Red Flag that, as usual, will feature two daily “waves” lasting up to five hours. Once again, along with the most important U.S. assets, including the F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and F-15E Strike Eagles, Nellis Air Force Base is hosting some allied contingents.

F-22 and Tornado

Among them, the Royal Australian Air Force, withi its F-18s and E-7, as well as the Royal Air Force with the Tornado GR4s from 9 Sqn at Marham, one E-3D Sentry from 8 Sqn at RAF Waddington and Eurofighter Typhoons FGR4s  from 6 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars that will operate in the swing role.

Typhoon FGR4

Image credit: U.S. Air Force / RAF Crown Copyright


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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.