The Red Flag exercises, held periodically at the Nellis Air Force Base since 1975, are very realistic aerial war games. The purpose is to give pilots from the U.S., NATO and other allied countries an opportunity to practice and refine their skills for real combat situations. This includes the use of "enemy" hardware and live ammunition for bombing exercises within the Nellis complex. The exercises with flares and all kinds of aircraft can make a spectacular show, especially at night. There are usually two or three sorties per day (except on weekends): One or two sorties during daytime and one in the evening or at night. The night exercises usually inlude only one half of the daytime forces.
There are two teams, the good guys (Blue Team) and the aggressors (Red Team). The Red Team is composed of Nellis AFB-based pilots specially trained for this purpose, flying F-15 and F-16 aircraft. The Blue Team is composed of the various guest "players" in their native aircraft.
The Red Team sets up at the west side of the Nellis Ranges, in the Tolicha Peak area between Tonopah and Beatty. The Blue Team sets up in the east, over Delamar Dry Lake east of Alamo, which the pilots call Texas Lake because of its shape. The objective for the Blue Team is to destroy targets in Ranges 74 thru 76, southeast of the Tonopah Test Range. The Red Team of course try their best to keep them from getting there. Both teams usually meet in the airspace west and north of Rachel, where they engage in very realistic dogfights. Railroad Valley, and especially the old Cedar Pipeline Ranch is an excellent place to watch the air show.
There is also an excellent viewing spot close to Rachel, just north of Coyote Summit. By the trash barrels on Hwy. 375 near Coyote Summit take the dirt road that leads south from the highway, and follow it up the hill about 300 yards off the highway. From there you have an excellent view of the planes of the Blue Team coming low through Coyote Summit, as they move in for the attack from Texas Lake. Many of our Red Flag photos were taken there.
Other good places to see the Blue Team include the Powerlines Overlook in the mountains behind the Black Mailbox and the Pahroc Summit Pass, which the pilots call Student Gap.
Typically the first two of four annual Flag exercises are U.S. only, while the others include coalition forces. The list of foreign countries that have participated in the past includes: Argentinia, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, NATO, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom and Venezuela. The exercises last two weeks. Often two exercises are combined back-to-back, for a four week period.
Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) Exercises are a series of large-scale Chief of Staff Air Force (CSAF)-directed experiments. The goal is to evaluate new operational concepts, processes, and technologies with emphasis on integration of the different services, including coalition forces.
Jaded Thunder is a joint Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps exercise to give U.S. and allied aircrews the opportunity to simulate tracking enemy targets in an urban environment. The exercise takes place around Pahrump, NV. It involves ground units in civilian vehicles and clothing, as well as aircraft at altitudes between 7,000 and 10,000ft., including A-10, F-15E, F-16, HH-60, EA-6B, PC-12 and AC-130.
MAFEX ("Mobility Air Forces Exercise") objectives: Provide radar, IR and communications support for USAFWS MAFEX during Integration phase enabling C-130 and C-17 Weapons School training toward real-time threat reactions, EMCON procedures, and countermeasures (systems, maneuvers and expendables) employment against realistic systems. MAFEX provides students the opportunity to plan and execute a Joint Forcible Entry Op into an objective area with composite force threat avoidance and mitigation. Planning and execution will integrate CAF, Intel, Space, SOF, Army, and C2ISR operations. Finally, C-130s and C-17s will conduct large formation departure and recovery, en route serial rendezvous, formation air refueling (C-17), airdrop, and semi-prepared runway ops (C-17). Source: USAF
In Fall 2012 MAFEX was renamed JFE (see below)
JFE ("Joint Forcible Entry") objectives: Provide an understanding of C-130 and C-17 effectiveness when required to (1) penetrate threat rings (2) to extend self-protection capabilities to other package assets who are not equipped/capable. Weapons school students are instructed on countermeasure effectiveness of C-130 and C-17 aircraft, including how to best maximize their advantages when employing under the veil of strategic and tactical threat systems. The Weapons School is also conducting a JFE op into a single objective area while ensuring threat avoidance and mitigation. Realistic support and training is of the utmost importance for the Weapons School to provide the Air Force with the best-trained weapons officers. Source: USAF
The following schedule shows the planned dates for upcoming air exercises, and dates for past exercises. For information on participating units (if available) click on "Units". For photos click on "Photos".
|RED FLAG 14-1||10/07/2013 - 10/18/2013|
|RED FLAG 13-4||CANCELLED|
|JFE Spring 2013||05/2013|
|RED FLAG 13-3||02/25/2013 - 03/15/2013||Units|
|RED FLAG 13-2||01/21/2013 - 02/01/2013||Units||Photos|
|JFE (MAFEX) Fall 2012||11/30/2012||Units|
|RED FLAG 13-1||CANCELLED|
|JEFX 2012||08/20/2012 - 08/31/2012|
|RED FLAG 12-4||07/16/2012 - 07/27/2012||Units||Photos|
|MAFEX Springs 2012||05/23/2012||Units|
|Jaded Thunder 2012||04/28/2012 - 05/12/2012|
|RED FLAG 12-3||02/27/2012 - 03/16/2012||Units|
|RED FLAG 12-2||01/23/2012 - 02/03/2012||Units|
|RED FLAG 12-1||CANCELLED|
|RED FLAG 11-4||CANCELLED|
|RED FLAG 11-3||02/21/2011 - 03/11/2011||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 11-2||01/24/2011 - 02/04/2011||Units|
|RED FLAG 11-1||CANCELLED|
|RED FLAG 10-4||07/19/2010 - 07/30/2010||Units|
|RED FLAG 10-3||02/22/2010 - 03/05/2010||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 10-2||01/25/2010 - 02/05/2010||Units|
|RED FLAG 10-1||10/19/2009 - 10/30/2009||Units|
|RED FLAG 09-5||08/24/2009 - 09/04/2009||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 09-4||07/13/2009 - 07/24/2009||Units|
|RED FLAG 09-3||02/23/2009 - 03/13/2009||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 09-2||01/26/2009 - 02/06/2009||Units|
|RED FLAG 09-1||10/20/2008 - 10/31/2008||Units|
|RED FLAG 08-4||08/11/2008 - 08/22/2008||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 08-3||07/21/2008 - 08/01/2008||Units|
|JEFX 08-3 (#8)||04/14/2008 - 04/25/2008|
|RED FLAG 08-2.2||02/04/2008 - 02/15/2008||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 08-2.1||01/14/2008 - 01/25/2008||Units|
|JEFX 08-1 (#7)||11/05/2007 - 11/16/2007|
|RED FLAG 08-1||10/22/2007 - 11/02/2007||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 07-3||08/18/2007 - 08/31/2007||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 07-2.2||02/03/2007 - 02/17/2007||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 07-2.1||01/13/2007 - 01/26/2007||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 07-1||10/09/2006 - 10/20/2006|
|RED FLAG 06-2||08/05/2006 - 09/02/2006||Units|
|JEFX 06 (#6)||04/17/2006 - 05/05/2006||Photos|
|RED FLAG 06-1||01/21/2006 - 02/18/2006||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 05-4.2||08/19/2005 - 09/02/2005||Units|
|RED FLAG 05-4.1||08/08/2005 - 08/19/2005||Units|
|RED FLAG 05-3.2||03/19/2005 - 04/02/2005||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 05-3.1||02/26/2005 - 03/12/2005||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 05-2||CANCELLED||-||-|
|RED FLAG 05-1.2||10/23/2004 - 11/06/2004||Units||Photos|
|RED FLAG 05-1.1||10/10/2004 - 10/23/2004||Units||Photos|