Tag Archives: 64th Aggressor Squadron

Check Out This F-16C From Nellis Air Force Base’s Aggressor Squadron Wearing The Have Glass V Paint Scheme

To our knowledge, there are three new F-16Cs (including this one from the 64th AGRS) sporting the Have Glass V paint scheme.

The photos in this post (released by the Australian Department of Defence within a set of shots taken at Nellis Air Force Base where the Royal Australian Air Force has deployed with four EA-18G Growlers, one of those involved in a take off incident on Jan. 27) are particularly interesting as they show an F-16C at Nellis Air Force Base wearing a brand new Have Glass 5th generation paint scheme.

The aircraft, serial 86-0280, is an F-16C assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron, a jet previously painted with the Arctic and Desert color schemes. At this link you can find a shot of the aircraft in Arctic livery (but make sure to visit the rest of Bruce Smith’s Flickr gallery for other outstanding photographs of this as well as many other jets operating out of Nellis).

F-16C jets belonging to the 64th (and 18th) AGRS have been sporting different paint schemes for decades now. “Arctic”, “Blizzard“, “Splinter” and “Desert” are just a few of the “exotic” paint jobs used on the F-16s to make the Aggressor jets as similar as possible to the real threats and put the pilots in training against the Red Air in a similar situation to what they would see during an engagement with the opposing combat air forces. For this reason, such “themes” have become a distinguishing feature of U.S. Air Force Aggressors to make their fighter jets similar to a Russian 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

However, as the shots in this post seem to prove, even the Aggressors have started flying with F-16 painted with the Have Glass V: the “Have Glass 5th generation” is the evolution of the standard Have Glass program that saw all the F-16s receiving a two-tone grey color scheme made with a special radar-absorbing paint capable to reduce the aircraft Radar Cross Section. Indeed, all “Vipers” are covered with RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) made of microscopic metal grains that can degrade the radar signature of the aircraft. The Have Glass V is the latest version of the special paint.

An F-16C Aggressor from the United States Air Force prepares for another sortie from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. *** Local Caption *** The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed a contingent of approximately 340 personnel to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for Exercise Red Flag 18-1, taking place from 29 January to 16 February 2018.
Established in 1980 by the United States Air Force, Exercise Red Flag centres on the world’s most complex reconstruction of a modern battlespace and is recognised as one of the world’s premier air combat exercises. The exercise involves participants from the United States Navy as well as the United Kingdom.
For 2018, an AP-3C Orion, E-7A Wedgetail and a Control and Reporting Centre have been deployed on the complex, multi-nation exercise. Four EA-18G Growler aircraft from Number 6 Squadron have also been deployed for the first time on an international exercise, since being transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in January 2017.
Training alongside allied nations is critical to the success of Air Force units on real world operations; helping develop further familiarity with foreign terminology, methods and platforms.

We don’t know yet why the F-16C AF 86-0280 was given the somehow standard HG V paint scheme (is it going to be handed over to another Squadron or are the Aggressors going to fly a few aircraft in standard color scheme?), still the Viper in the dark grey Have Glass livery looks pretty cool.

Our reader and friend Stephan de Bruijn informed us that two more 64th AGRS birds were spotted on Nov. 29, 2017, with the HG V livery: 91-0374 and 90-0740. You can find two shots from Stephan in the comment thread. Actually it’s not clear whether these Vipers belong to the Aggressors too: in fact, according to some sources these F-16s, are assigned to the Weapons School. According to Dennis Peteri, both 90-0740 and 91-0374 left OT/422nd TES for WA/16th WPS sporting HG V. 64th AGRS only operate Block25/32 aircraft while 374 and 740 are Block 42s. So, at the moment, the AF 86-0280 should be the very first HG V of the 64th AGRS.

If you have further details let us know.

Image credit: CPL David Gibbs / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

H/T Gordon Bradbury for the heads-up

Aggressors F-16 got a new “splinter” color scheme

The 64th Aggressor Squadron has unveiled the new “splinter” paint scheme for the F-16 Aggressors at Nellis Air Force Base during the 57th Adversary Tactics Group change of command.

On Aug. 5, the 64th AGRS unveiled a new “splinter” F-16.

According to a U.S. Air Force release:

“The paint scheme is a means of representing threats more accurately,” said Capt. Ken Spiro, 64th AGRS chief of intelligence. “There are real world threats that paint their jets in this way so we are changing over to make it more physically like their aircraft. Once a pilot who is training comes within visual range of the new Aggressor, they’ll be seeing a similar situation to what they would see with an actual threat aircraft.”

To represent these threats more accurately, the 64th AGRS looks for any and all ways to try to emulate the threats that are opposing combat air forces.

“The idea started at the 64th AGRS because we’re always looking for different ways to be more threat representative, and make the training more realistic,” said Spiro. “The 64th AGRS gets creative in extra ways, such as paint schemes to accurately and better represent threats. We act like, look like, or anything you can think of we try so we can be true to the threats. We’ve had some jets that are painted like a regular F-16, and then we’ve had some that have more of a tiger stripe pattern. Our F-16’s paint schemes have been similar to threats in the past and this new scheme is more representative of today’s threats.”

Noteworthy, a new F-16 with a new “shark” paint scheme is being prepared at Nellis. Inspired by the T-50?

“Splinter” paint schemes have become a distinguishing feature of U.S. Air Force Aggressors to make their fighter jets similar to a Russian 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

However, this kind color scheme was “inadvertently invented” for U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets to aid the young pilots in target ID: it was not introduced to make the jets similar to their Russian adversaries, just to make them more visible.

Splinter scheme F-16

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Salva

What happens after sunset on the flight line at Nellis Air Force Base during a Red Flag

A very different perspective.

The sun was dropping quickly towards the Spring Mountains indicating the day was coming to an end. Aircraft spotters packed their gear and disappeared to their hotels for the night. Red Flag aircraft back from their afternoon sorties were parked in perfect order on the flight line and looked bedded down for the night. A relative silence dropped over Nellis AFB, only broken by a handful of non-flag aircraft that were now returning from their sorties, arriving in the final moments of twilight.

A small group of media under Air Force escort entering the flight line first passed the USAF Thunderbirds F-16s, parked with precision – just as they are flown. From a distance the flight line appears to have scores of fighter aircraft jammed together, but up close one quickly notes that everything is in perfect order.

Anxiousness to get as many photos as possible before the light faded is tempered by patience, as process takes priority. Our position on the flight line called in to “higher powers” and verified, we spill from the van with our chaperone – and to the F-15s of the 64th Aggressor squadron. As the sun fades, the moon appears – tearing photographers between aircraft and compelling lighting in opposing directions.

F-15 servicing

Among the F-15C Aggressors, maintenance crews were performing engine and system run-ups, assuring all would be in order for the night launch scheduled in about 3 hrs. In all likelihood the pilots had already assembled for their pre mission briefing elsewhere on the base.

F-15 ground tests

As regular observers know, there is always plenty of non-flag activity on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) and at Nellis AFB. A couple of F-15s return from a non-flag sortie, and taxi to their parking spot mere feet away. No waiting for a gate agent here, they are greeted by crew already in place, jumping into action to assist in the aircrafts shutdown and post flight inspection.

While portions of the flight line may be quiet, this is not one. Ground crews, maintenance groups and ordinance personnel are all busy addressing their responsibilities, the latter moving munitions trailers into place for the evening activity. As the sun sets, we are fortunate to capture F-16AMs from the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) that look as though they are lined up on alert, all the pieces in place for a rapid scramble. Within a few moments, the moonlight illuminates the “Black Widows,” F-16CMs, from the 421st FS, Hill AFB. So many additional units and aircraft go unvisited – as time is passing far too quickly.

RF F-16

We move as quickly as we can about the flight line, but in all cases accountability is rightfully high. Our position is continually reported to base supervisors, and though we are escorted by uniformed personnel, we are stopped multiple times by base or unit security asking to see ID, and the official paperwork verifying approval. Patience and courtesy rule while radio calls are made, verifying we have the required approvals to set foot on this most secure ground. Fortunately, the Public Affairs office left no detail undone – and we are permitted to continue. One might think that once you have permission to enter the flight line – you’re in the clear, yet nothing else could be more wrong. Virtually everyone on the flight line takes responsibility for the security of the area, and rightfully so, it’s very serious business.

RF RNoAF F-16s

While flag aircraft seem asleep for the night, those landing go through a number of inspections. Pilots walk the aircraft, plane captains may be on site, or USAF Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and supporting specialized crew inspect each aircraft after landing to identify any issues that may require attention. Six F-18Es from the US Navy’s VFA-192 Golden Dragons return to base and taxi to their position. The initials “SSHWFGD” adorn the tail…. “Super Shit Hot World Famous Golden Dragons.”

F_A-18E night on the flight line

Another example of non-USAF units utilizing Nellis and the NTTR for their training purposes outside of Red Flag activity. A Naval Aircraft Structural mechanic inspects the F-18Es carefully so he may relay anything that requires attention to the plane captain and maintenance team to address in the morning.

Super Hornet night

The process is impressive and consistent. Inspect aircraft before engine start-up, inspect thoroughly at the EOR (End of Runway) preflight, fly the sortie, return to base, inspect again. Nothing is left to chance, careful stewardship of the aircraft is part of the daily routine.

F-18E Special

Near the EA-6B Prowlers from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, NC a number of SH-60s are attended by crews and fire up, strobes flashing in the night. After a number of minutes what appears to be a team of Special Forces take their place inside, sliding the doors shut in preparation for lift off. A couple more minutes pass while crew members perform their walk around and like clockwork, the helicopters are launched. A young crewman passes by and informs me that it was one of the Seal Teams headed out to the NTTR for pre deployment training.

As launch grows closer we move to EOR and wait as the night cools dramatically. In the relative distance ground crew start to gather near their aircraft, and the white vans carrying pilots arrive. Anticipation builds. This is not a typical practice mission to build hours and keep skills sharp. This is Red Flag where pilots and crew have missions and objectives that will be contested on the “battlefield” of the NTTR. Every action taken will be reviewed upon landing and while there will be “winners” and “losers” all will be learners. It’s as close as they’ll get to going to war – without being in war.

Within a few minutes the noise of jet engines starting breaks the stillness of the night. It is an odd cacophony of sound, banging, even clanking like someone was smashing metal on metal that quickly turns to a groaning and growling finally increasing to an orchestra of constant whine as the engines move to idle. The smell of burnt jet fuel from the 75 or more idling engines fills the air – like a rich cologne to the aviation enthusiast.

The sign of good things to come, a mere couple hundred feet away on the runway, the E-3 AWACS, KC-135 tankers, and JSTARs roar past disappearing into the night sky. The surge of engines breaks the constant whine as F15s and F16s begin to leave their parking spots headed for their final preflight and ordnance checks at EOR.

B-52Hs, carrying any variety of lethal weapons inside taxi into place and roar down the runway disappearing into the night. B-1Bs follow, lighting their burners and with a tremendous roar that redefines power – blast by. The entire earth trembles, and it feels like my insides have been tossed into a blender. Absolutely fantastic! I scream, but no one can hear me – let alone myself. Burners aglow the B-1Bs remain visible for many miles as they climb away range bound. The night had been cool, and as a passing gift the B-1B raises the entire area at least a few degrees. We are thankful for the serendipitous gift of warmth.

60ft away 8 F-15s have lined up wing tip to wingtip for their final preflight and ordnance check. After idling during inspection they pull forward and turn, passing mere feet away, their engines like space heaters giving us one final shot of heat.

The launch picks up its pace as most the aircraft attempt to get in the air at roughly the same time for the exercise. Prowlers, Eagles, Falcons, and others roar down the runway, most (aside from the Prowlers) riding a rocket, afterburners like a propane torch on maximum flame. After scores of launches there remains but the whine of a handful of aircraft that are slated for late launch windows – likely entering the exercise on a specific Air to Ground sortie.

F-16 HL

And then, suddenly the night is quiet, the moon illuminating the base that once again appears asleep. But it is an illusion. Nellis does not sleep, it only rests. Like the slow deep breathing one uses to catch their breath after a great exertion and as preparation for the next sprint. It’s another Red Flag at Nellis and for all the activity seen, like an iceberg, there is much greater activity by the compliment of units and support staff that keep it afloat. As much in life, the visible get the glory and honor, but nothing happens without the countless groups and specialties that work unseen on and off the flight line. Thank you for your service, and for the privilege of participating in it.

Special thanks to MSgt David Miller and A1C Joshua Kleinholz USAF ACC 99 ABW/PA.

Todd Miller lives in MD, US where he is an Executive at a Sustainable Cement Technology Company in the USA. When not working, Todd is an avid photographer of military aircraft and content contributor.