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US Air Force begins first Red Flag of 2021

B-2 Spirit at Nellis Air Force Base
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. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force has kicked off Red Flag 21-1 at Nellis Air Force Base in Southern Nevada.

The first of several Red Flag evolutions that will take place this year will run from January 25 through February 12.

The 57th Wing’s 414th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis 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 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, F-35, F-16, EA-18G, F-15E and A-10.

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 US Air Force Warfare Center’s 57th Wing is administering Green Flag-West, an air-land integration combat training exercise conducted in conjunction with the US 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.