January 8, 2013 (by SrA Natasha Stannard) - Members of the 480th Fighter Squadron departed Spangdahlem Air Base Jan. 4, to participate in Red Flag 13-2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
USAF F-16C block 50 #90-0827 from the 480th FS takes off on January 5th, 2013. The 480th FS took off to participate in Red Flag, an annual training exercise that prepares aircrews for combat. [USAF photo by SSgt. Nathanael Callon]
Red Flag is an annual multiservice and coalition force air-to-air combat operations exercise. Pilots from U.S. and allied countries are set to train in a variety of platforms throughout the exercise to increase combat readiness and interoperability, according to the Red Flag website.
"Red Flag gives us the opportunity to get our pilots combat ready," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeremy Phifer, 480th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge from Denver. "This way, when they leave to go downrange, they'll be well versed in doing things that they can't practice at Spangdahlem."
Red Flag not only provides the pilots with combat readiness training, but support elements such as maintenance and logistics personnel as well, said Phifer.
The 480th FS
will also have the ability to strengthen bonds with their allies as they train alongside other U.S. Air Force units, U.S. Navy, and British, Netherlands
, Singaporean, and Swedish forces.
"Anytime we go into any sort of conflict, it's going to be with a joint or coalition force," Phifer said. "Training with them at Red Flag helps us work out all the kinks in a controlled environment versus downrange."
"Working with different nations is good for our training because when we go down range we're not just going to work with British forces; we're going to work with American forces a lot, so this training should be good fun," added British Army Sgt. Lee Neale, 20th Armored Brigade.
Throughout the exercise, multiple aircraft will operate in the same airspace and even work together during realistic combat scenarios.
Aircrews will be divided into opposing forces; red--the bad guys and blue--the good guys. During the employment phase of the exercise, aircrews will test each other's skills as "red" forces throw various air interdiction, combat search and rescue, close air support, dynamic targeting and defensive counter air threats at the "blue" forces.
"The ultimate goal is to understand each other's tactics, techniques, procedures and terminology here so we can work more cohesively and efficiently in combat operations," said Airman 1st Class Sean Whitaker, 480th Fighter Squadron intelligence analyst.