By Staff Sgt. Justin Andras
122nd Fighter Wing
Airmen assigned to the 122nd Fighter Wing, Fort Wayne, Indiana, began participating in Red Flag 21-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 25, 2021. The three-week multi-annual event, conducted by the 57th Wing's 414th Combat Training Squadron, is a U.S. Air Force premier air-to-air combat training exercise designed to provide aircrews the experience of multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.
"As Red Flag is aligned with our National Defense Strategy in support of the United States Air Force Warfare Center's great power competition priority, we expanded the fight airspace, unleashed our aggressor forces to challenge the training audience's plan and punish their mistakes, and made it significantly more difficult to achieve desired effects on surface targets," said Col. William Reese, 414th CTS commander. "This Red Flag is a much better training opportunity and will galvanize our coalition force readiness to meet any high-end threat."
The contested combat training exercise, involving the U.S. Air Force and allied air forces, is one of a series of advanced training programs administered by the USAFWC and the base. It’s conducted on the Nevada Test and Training Range, which includes more than 12,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land.
"This exercise is more realistic to what we would experience on a deployment and teaches us how to work with limited resources and still meet the intent of the mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Edward Wielosinski, 122nd FW production superintendent. "It is a great opportunity for us to interact with other units and exercise our training."
The 122nd FW's Airmen, accompanied by their Blacksnake nose art adorned A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft, join about 2,400 participants from nearly 20 states, two nations and several sister services. An array of aircraft are taking part, such as the F-22, F-35, F-16, EA-18G and F-15E. The 509th Bomb Wing is in the lead wing position, and the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit are integrated into the training, increasing interoperability.
"Red Flag gives participating units with different mission sets an opportunity to train together during a large-force, joint interoperability live-fly exercise," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Consigny, 414th CTS superintendent. "This experience provides our Combat Air Forces combat-ready squadrons who are prepared to integrate downrange for today's fight or any future near-peer conflict."