The US Air Force has kicked off its largest and the world famous three-week premier air-to-air combat training exercise, Red Flag 18-1, beginning today and will conclude February the 16th.

The exercise typically involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft as well as participants from the US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, Marine Corps, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Air Force.

“We’re trying a few new and different things with Red Flag 18-1,” said Col Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “It’s the largest Red Flag ever with the largest number of participants, highlighting the balance of training efficiency with mission effectiveness.”

While Red Flag occurs in multiple iterations annually, each one has a unique training purpose – 18-1 is no exception.

“Red Flag 18-1 primarily is a strike package focused training venue that we integrate at a command and control level in support of joint task force operations,” said Mathes.

“It’s a lot of words to say that we integrate every capability we can into strike operations that are flown out of Nellis Air Force Base.”

The training offered during Red Flag has prepared armed forces for future engagements say the US Air Force.

“Red Flag remains a great mix of heritage and future potential,” said Mathes.

“We are very proud of our heritage with the way that red flag had improved survivability and readiness over the years. We look forward as we continue to grow readiness through integrated training as well as improving training efficiency.”


  1. We are witnessing the collective benefits of common equipment on a grand scale, something the Warsaw Pact achieved in its golden years. Let us all hope the F35 proves its worth or else????

  2. RAF 10 Sqn KC3
    RAF V Sqn R1
    RAF XI(F) Sqn FGR4
    RAF 47 Sqn C-130J

    RAAF 6 Sqn EA18G
    RAAF 2 Sqn E7
    RAAF 10 Sqn AP3C

    12th ACCS E-8C
    123d FS F-15C
    134th FS F-16C+
    27th FS F-22A
    335th FS F-15E
    343d RS RC-135
    43d ECS EC-130H
    55th FS F-16CM
    55th RQS HH-60G
    71st RQS HC-130J
    964th AACS E-3G
    9th BS B-1B
    VAQ 138 EA18G
    RFTTF 22d ARW KC-135R

    A lot of E’s and R’s in that list from all three countries :/

  3. Nellis a unique place in western world where this can take place.

    With its size I think Australia should also build such a facility. Annual events in US and Oz would be formidable training.

    • Australia already has.

      The Delamere Range in the Northern Territory, which began as a simple bombing range, is evolving into a sophisticated regional training asset able to simulate a range of advanced radar emitters and missile system threats as well as provide physical targets including a simulated airfield complex, shipping container ‘township’ and mobile missile launchers.

      The 2110 square kilometre range offers unrestricted airspace up to 60,000 feet. Located 120 kilometres from Australia’s largest forward operating airbase RAAF Tindal, Delamere/Tindal is analogous to the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR)/Nellis set-up, albeit less developed.

      The ADF is working to acquire additional land to connect Delamere to the larger (8,700 square kilometres) Bradshaw Field Training Area about 100 kilometres to the east. This would create a single training area equal in size to the NTTR (or a little over half the size of Wales).

      Delamere is now employing increasingly sophisticated simulations of integrated air defences including the USAF Northrop Grumman joint threat emitter (JTE) system on joint exercises like Talisman Sabre. The introduction of the RAAF’s EA18G Growlers has highlighted the need for a more permanent electronic warfare training facility.

      Under project AIR3021 the ADF has allocated up to $300 million to the Mobile Electronic Warfare Threat Emitter System by 2021. In the meantime the workup of the Growlers to FOC continues with their first deployment to Red Flag 2018-1 alongside USN EA18Gs.

      The RAAF’s biennial Exercise Pitch Black is an international large-scale Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Defensive Counter Air (DCA) simulation – an Australian version of Red Flag.

      Pitch Black exercises have grown to be similar in scale (if not frequency) to Red Flag. PB 2016 featured 115 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the US.

      This includes a diverse range of 4 and 4.5 generation aircraft types, such as Indonesian Sukhois, plus tankers and AWACs and in the near future will incorporate RAAF F35As. PB2018 will include the Indian air force for the first time.

      If a ‘Global Britain’ is to be anything more than a slogan then the RAF needs to be able to deploy to exercises in the Pacific like Pitch Black. You’d be most welcome for an ‘Aerial Ashes’ series.

  4. Best detachment ever!!! I did 6 weeks in Vegas on exercise one year with 2 Sqn. Messed up thing is, the RAF put us in hotels off the strip, in dodgier parts of town, at a higher cost because it wouldn’t look good if we were living it large in the main hotels on the strip. Even though we were offered a huge discount. First time I went it was 2 $ to the pound. Living like kings, on rates. $5 on food, $70 on beer, strippers and gambling!!!

  5. Having Listened to many governments in the UK and a few others over the last few years, I Now Believe that the UK Is only going through the Motions when it comes to Defence…When the Government needs cash they Cut back on Defence without Thinking of the Consequences of there Actions…What is the Point of removing Harpoon Missiles from the Type 45 Destroyers, It might save a few £ millions But if one of those 45 Destroyers were Sunk because they have NO Adequate Defences against Various Attacks, The Overall Cost would be Much more Costly and massively Embarrassing to the Government…From a Outsider looking in to the Defence of the Realm it looks like a Total Mess…They Always put a Order in for say 18 Ships but you know that whatever happens, This order for this amount of ships will Always be Cut back to a Lot less…If the Navy is Lucky they might just get 3/5 of that order…They Waste £ Millions like it is Water…And this is Done because they must buy another 4 DREADNOUGHT BALLISTIC SUBMARINES…Costing Around £31 Billions…Another Huge amount of Money the UK CANNOT AFFORD…This Government Wasted yet More Money on the F-35 … Many people are saying that this Aircraft is a Total Waste of Money…I TEND TO AGREE..


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