August 6, 2010 (by Capt. Ashley Norris) - It took six days and four stops for six Pakistan Air Force pilots to fly six F-16Bs over 7,700 miles from Mushaf Air Base in northern Pakistan to Las Vegas to fly and train in Red Flag 10-4 and Green Flag 10-9 exercises at Nellis AFB.
A four-ship of F-16s lead by F-16B block 15 #90615 from 9 sqn of the PAF head to the fight after refuelling on July 21st, 2010 during Red Flag 10-4. [USN photo by IT1. Steven Wolff]
Approximately 100 maintenance, support and aircrew personnel arrived here in mid-July and have already completed the intense two-week Red Flag exercise, which concentrates on large force combat employment.
"Red Flag has given the PAF
the opportunity to deploy its assets and personnel around the world," said Group Captain Javad Saeed, the Pakistan
Detachment commander. "It has also provided a contemporary air combat training environment for our less experienced aircrew members."
The PAF flew 57 air interdiction sorties in 12 days. "For PAF to participate in Red Flag, it required training and proficiency on air-to-air refueling operations," Captain Saeed said. The PAF, with U.S. Air Force support, was able to gain that proficiency and refuel 50 times for a total transfer of 110,900 pounds of jet fuel.
The captain said deploying to Nellis has given them the opportunity to interact and operate in a joint environment, allowing every person, unit and nation involved to learn from each other. He added that Red Flag provides a rich training environment shaped by different professional forces and nations.
Red Flag 10-4 had personnel from 16 different countries, including units from Pakistan, Singapore
and Saudi Arabia. Also participating was a NATO
unit from Germany and U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force units.
"The Pakistan Air Force's participation in this world-class exercise helps to build international air force cooperation, interoperability and mutual support," said Vice Adm. Michael LeFever, the U.S. Defense representative to Pakistan.
"The participation, together in this exercise, is not only valuable but also essential in that allied forces are the key to success," said Col. Don Godier, 20th Fighter Wing vice commander and Air Expeditionary Wing commander for Red Flag.
Captain Saeed said that Pakistan's participation in Red Flag was useful, adding that he felt the best thing was the debriefing methodology and the tools used to bring out valid lessons.
The Pakistan Air Force didn't leave after Red Flag but is staying for an additional three weeks in order to participate in Green Flag 10-9. Green Flag runs from Aug. 8-19 and is an exercise that focuses on close air support of ground troops. Joint terminal attack controllers working on the ground talk to pilots flying overhead and direct them in to provide close air support on the 1,000-square-mile National Training Center near Fort Irwin, Calif.
"Pakistan and the U.S. have participated in normally scheduled exercises since 2006," said Capt. Lisa Spilinek, chief of media operations for U.S. Air Force Central Command Public Affairs. "These exercises are designed to improve U.S. and Pakistani interoperability, enhance security relationships and demonstrate U.S. resolve to support the security and humanitarian interests of our friends and allies in the region."
"The Green Flag exercise will be a new experience for us... something new that we are looking forward to as a whole," Captain Saeed said. "Participating in both exercises gives us an opportunity to understand each other culturally and professionally, which is crucial for forces and nations dependent on each other, working for common objectives."
These unique exercises allow the U.S. and Pakistan the opportunity to enhance air force interoperability and show mutual support. By coming to Nellis to participate in Red Flag 10-4, both air forces' personnel have improved their skills and worked with and learned from one another. Green Flag 10-9 will provide the opportunity for continued growth.