Red Flag 15-2

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Red Flag 15-2 recently concluded marking the last time that aggressor painted F-15s will be used as adversaries. Earlier this year the 65th Aggressor Squadron stood down, and the remaining F-15s were transferred to the 64th AS which flies the F-16C. As with RF 15-1, other units stepped in to fill the void and provide additional adversary support. In 15-1, F-15Es from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base participated, and in 15-2, T-38s from Randolph AFB got into the fight with multiple aggressor missions as well.

Probably the most intriguing difference between this Red Flag and others was the introduction of the Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) portion of the exercise. With the LVC in place for the first time, hundreds of service members were able to participate from their home stations or from Kirkland AFB, New Mexico, via simulators, and provide ground surveillance in support of attack operations. In RF 15-2, Patriot missile systems and crews were deployed to the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) for the first time as well. But with the LVC now being integrated into the exercise, the military can save over 1 million dollars an exercise by making the Patriot missile batteries ‘virtual’. However, the largest benefit from the virtual training is from the increased mission readiness for all participating units, not the financial savings.

Some of the more notable participating aircraft this Flag were EA-6B Prowlers from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, MCAS Cherry Point, B-52s from the 5th Bomber Wing, 23rd Bomber Squadron, Minot AFB, and F-16s from 338 Squadron, with the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

With the completion of the second of four exercises planned for this fiscal year, the lessons learned and data gathered will now be dissected and analyzed, and new mission plans will be created for 15-3 and 15-4 which takes place this Summer from July 13-31, and again from August 17-28.

I’d like to thank Msgt Miller, A1C Kleinholz, and the entire 99th ABW public affairs Office for their unparalleled hospitality and for graciously opening their doors to us so we can share how even the most cutting edge training constantly evolves and improves.

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Steve Lewis

Steve is a Southern California based photographer living in the Los Angeles area.

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