PHOTOS: Afterburners, Bombers and Tankers Take the Stage at Red Flag-Nellis
A number of US aircraft participated in the event from a range of bases across the country and the globe. Scores of A-10, F-15, and F-16 type fighter aircraft departed the field, including both normal and aggressor planes. In addition to the fighters two B-52’s Buffs and two B-1 Bones rattled the field in epic departures. In total four aerial refuelers (KC-135) took to the sky along with one AWACS and, finally, five C-130’s. Though not participating in Red Flag activities, a pack of three F-22 Raptors rocketed out of the base in an unusual wet configuration.
In addition to the US crews, the other country to participate in the first Red Flag of 2011 was the United Arab Emirates. You may notice that the UAE F-16’s look a little different from the US F-16’s featured in shots. The reason is the UAE F-16’s conformal fuel tanks added to the top of the fuselage. Each tank holds an extra 450 gallons of jet fuel and by having two adds a total of 900 gallons for extra long flights.
The purpose of Red Flag is to realistically simulate aerial combat and survivability to prepare our troops and airmen for the real deal. Lasting two weeks, each Red Flag exercise normally involves a variety of missions including but not limited to fighter interdiction, attack, air superiority, aerial refueling, and reconnaissance.
NYCAviation correspondents David Lilienthal and Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren also contributed to this report.