Report: Red Flag 19-2 and Green Flag 19-05, Nellis AFB

Red Flag Nellis 2019
USAF F-15E Strike Eagles during exercise Red Flag 19-2, Nellis AFB.

The Red Flag (RF) exercise held in Nellis AFB is known as one of the most challenging air combat training exercises in the world. The large airspace training areas in Nevada allow air components to train in the full range of missions in a very realistic way. The exercise involves large-force combined air operations and air-to-ground, air-to-air, electronic warfare and air refuelling missions. In addition to fighters, participating aircraft include AWACS and jamming aircraft, tankers, simulated air defence systems and helicopters.

The adversary forces are provided by the USAF’s 64th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) which emulates the aircraft and tactics of the technologically advanced opponents. The 64th AGRS operates with F-16 Fighting Falcons that wear a livery similar to that of Russian fighters. 

Red Flag 19-2 (8 to 22 Mar 2019) involves, in addition to the new Saudi F-15SA fighters and F-35As with international crews, F-15E, F-15C, F-15SE, F-16A MLU, F-16E Block 60, E/A-18G, B-1B, KC-135 Tanker, E-8 JSTAR, EA-3C AWACS, MQ-9, HH-60, HC-130J and KC-767 Tanker.

Every session of the RF is different and the current one is undoubtedly the largest of the year. More than 80 aircraft from the U.S. and partner nations are scheduled to depart Nellis twice a day and may remain in the air for up to five hours. Operations also include night launches to allow crews to train in night combat.

In addition to the RF, Nellis AFB is also hosting the Green Flag 19-05 exercise. The GF is a realistic air-land integration combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies. It's mainly focused on Close Air Support (CAS) missions.

The two exercises are perfectly integrated because each one also involves the other's assets. A typical GF exercise includes two multi-role fighter and/or bomber squadrons (F-15Es, F-16s, F/A-18s, A-10s, B-1s, B-52s, etc.), unmanned aircraft (MQ-1, MQ-9, Shadow, Raven), electronic warfare aircraft (EC-130s, EP-3s), aerial refueling aircraft (KC-130s, KC-135s, and KC-10s) and control assets (AWACS, E-8C Joint Stars).

Our contributor George Karavantos traveled to Nevada to take pictures of the aircraft participating in both exercises.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: George Karavantos

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