Red Flag 21-1 kicks off at Nellis AFB

Southern Nevada residents may notice an increase in military aircraft activity from Jan. 25 through Feb. 12 as Nellis Air Force Base begins exercise Red Flag 21-1, one of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat training exercises.

The 57th Wing’s 414th Combat Training Squadron conducts Red Flag exercises to provide aircrews the experience of multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.

Each Red Flag exercise is unique and Red Flag 21-1 is no different.

“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.”

Starting off the 2021 season, Red Flag 21-1 is hosting about 2,400 participants from nearly 20 states, three nations and several sister services and will include an array of aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, EA-18G Growler, F-15E Strike Eagle and A-10 Thunderbolt II. The 509th Bomb Wing will take the lead wing position, and the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit will integrate into the training, increasing interoperability.

The mission of the 414th CTS is to maximize the combat readiness, capability and survivability of participating units. Red Flag exercises provide realistic, multi-domain training in a combined air, ground, space and electronic threat environment while providing opportunity for a free exchange of ideas between forces.

“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 that are prepared to integrate down range for today’s fight or any future near-peer conflict.”

Concurrent to Red Flag, the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center’s 57th Wing is administering Green Flag-West, an air-land integration combat training exercise conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Army Combat Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

The 549th Combat Training Squadron will direct, monitor and instruct air operations in support of ground forces while the 12th Combat Training Squadron will ready tactical air control parties, weather teams and brigade combat teams to execute decisive, worldwide multi-spectrum combat operations.

“The 57th Wing is charged to provide world-class training to U.S. and allied aircrews year-round, COVID or not,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Drowley, 57th Wing commander. “Our team’s mission to prepare participants for the high-end fight and great power competition continues unabated, and we’re confident the months of coordination and logistical planning we’ve poured into both Flags will enable their effective, simultaneous success.”

An Airman walks across B-2 Spritis.

An Airman assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, walks across a B-2 Spirit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 22, 2021. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. Several B-2s are participating in Red Flag 21-1 to demonstrate the capability of U.S. global strike assets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dylan Murakami)

A B-2 Spirit lands at Nellis.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, lands at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Jan. 22, 2021. The 509th Bomb Wing is the lead wing in Red Flag 21-1 which uses the Air Force’s premier military training area with more than 12,000 square miles of airspace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Thomas Cox)

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