This iteration of Red Flag is the first to have both the F-35A and F-35B aircraft.
During the exercise, the jets will conduct defensive counter air; offensive counter air; suppression of enemy air defence; destruction of enemy air defence; dynamic tasking, which the US Marine Corps says involve finding a time-sensitive target or series of targets and eliminating them; electronic warfare; preplanned strikes; and combat search and rescue.
Maj. Paul Holst, VMFA-211’s executive officer said:
“Red Flag 17-3 is designed to be a venue for US forces to integrate on a scale that’s not possible anywhere else — so Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army assets come from all over the United States and participate in advanced mission sets together.
It’s … important to practice integrating assets from all across the inventory because if we go to conflict, we don’t want that to be the first time we all integrate with each other.”
According to Holst, this is the first time the F-35A and F-35B will participate in the same exercise.
“This is the first time we’ve deployed on this scale … we brought 10 F-35s here with all of our maintenance equipment, all of our support equipment and personnel,” said Holst. “For the pilots, the opportunity to participate in these exercises prepares us for combat … and the opportunity to integrate and plan with the rest of the force is something you just don’t get anywhere else.”