HomeArticle Display

Pilots, maintainers participate in 32nd Annual Red Flag

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Approximately 150 Holloman Airmen are scheduled to deploy to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Tuesday to participate in Red Flag, the Air Force's leading aerial combat training exercise.

The purpose of Red Flag is to train United States and Allied nation pilots to successfully engage in real-world aerial combat. Exercise scenarios include bombing exercises within the Nevada Test and Training Range, an area used because of its remote location and size.

According to Lt. Col. Peter York, 8th Fighter Squadron director of operations, Red Flag is "as realistic as it can get."

The exercise is beneficial to maintenance crew members and pilots alike, said Capt. Jay Bertsch, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in-charge. In fact, more than 100 of the Airmen headed to Red Flag are from the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Group.

"Without sound maintenance performance, [we] could potentially lose a wartime training opportunity," he said. "Every sortie at Red Flag is critical - we have to bring our 'A' game."
Chief Master Sgt. Robert Cline, 8 AMU NCOIC, a veteran of several Red Flag deployments, agrees the exercise provides tremendous training opportunities.

"It allowed me to network directly with maintenance supervision from other Air Force units, including Guard and Reserve," he said, citing previous Red Flag deployments. "These opportunities allowed me to gain enormous experience in how we work together in a joint environment."

Colonel York said that while this will likely be the last Red Flag deployment for the F-117A, the exercise has allowed Holloman pilots to validate and develop tactics while learning from their fellow pilots.

"It's an honor to be a part of this and the 8th is fortunate indeed to fly the Stealth Fighter at its last Nellis deployment," he said.

Captain Bertsch and Chief Cline both say the F117A's role in Red Flag has been pivotal.
"It was the first aircraft to bring 'stealth' technology to the Red Flag training environment," said Captain Bertsch. "The F-117A has set the stage for all current and future stealth involvement in both training and combat."