RED FLAG 17-3 BEGINS WITH F-35A AND F-35B

The Marine Corps’ F-35Bs participate alongside the Air Force’s F-35As for the first time in Red Flag history.

F-35B and F-35A Red Flag
Two F-35B Lightning IIs taxi the runway after landing at Nellis Air Force Base

The U.S. Air Force began Red Flag 17-3, its three-week air-to-air combat training exercise, on July 10 and will conclude July 28.

Aircraft will depart from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, twice daily to participate in combat training missions on the Nevada Test and Training Range north of Las Vegas in one of the Air Force’s largest joint exercises.

“For Red Flag, we bring in our joint warfighters with their capabilities and their equipment,” said Lt. Col. Mark Sadler, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “We come together, fight as a team, and we get to learn from each other as we do that.”

Each Red Flag exercise is unique and Red Flag 17-3 is no different. For the first time, there will be two F-35 Lightning II squadrons participating.

The Marine Corps’ F-35Bs will participate alongside the Air Force’s F-35As for the first time in Red Flag history.


As the F-35 mission continues to grow, so will the operators, maintainers and the system as a whole. We get to learn in a realistic training environment as we continue to progress down the road with this platform and other fifth-generation or fourth-generation aircraft, said Sadler.

Sadler said, having two F-35 units at Red Flag will allow us to learn about the capabilities of both the F-35A and the F-35B models from each other.

“We’re not going to go to war alone,” said Sadler. “The more we can do joint exercises like Red Flag where we get everybody together and learn from each other, the more we can better use each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures to successfully go after whatever the problem set is.”

Red Flag consists of a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, airlift support, search and rescue aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft and ground based command and control, space and cyber forces.

More than 2,500 joint warfighters will participate in the multi-domain integration, Red Flag 17-3, where they will operate together and successfully defeat the threat.

“Red Flag gives our joint warfighters the opportunity to promote their readiness through innovation,” said Sadler. “They may have to go outside their comfort zone and take risks with their innovation, but at the end of the day if they see positive, successful outcomes towards the objectives, then that’s immediate positive feedback on readiness we’re looking for at Red Flag.”

Source: 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Photo credits: DVIDS

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