Once again I was fortunate enough to be able to get to Nellis AFB, NV during a Red Flag exercise.
Participants for Red flag 16-4 had not been widely publicised in advance due to the sensitive nature of the air forces involved. There was a mixture of what would appear to be, on paper at least, opposing sides in world conflicts.
The participants included:
- Pakistan Air Force F-16C / F-16D’s
- UAE Air Force F-16C / F-16D’s
- Israeli Air Force F-16I’s
- Israeli Air Force Boeing 707’s
- Spanish Air Force EF-18M’s
- Spanish Air Force KC-130’s
- USAF F-15E’s from 389FS and 391FS based at Mountain Home, ID
- USAF F-15E’s from 492FS based at RAF Lakenheath, UK
- USAF F-15C’s from 122FS based at NAS JRB New Orleans, LA
- USAF F-16C’s from 55FS based at Shaw AFB, SC
- USAF E-3A’s from 552ACW based at Tinker AFB, OK
- USAF HC-130J’s from 71RQS based at Moody AFB, GA
- USNavy MH-60’s from HS-6 based at NAS North Island, CA
- Draken International Douglas A-4K Skyhawks
In addition, a C-17 support aircraft from UAE was present on the first Monday of the exercise while I was there, departing late morning to points unknown.
Visitors not participating in Red Flag 16-4 included A-10’s from 75FS at Moody AFB, GA and F-16’s from 4FS and 421FS formerly at Hill AFB, UT – the F-16’s are forming a new Close Air Support squadron at Nellis.
Other locally based assets included F-15’s and F-16’s from 57OG and 64AS plus USAF Weapons School aircraft, launching F-15’s, F-16’s, F-22’s and F-35’s.
As ever there were periods of intense activity and periods of no activity at all! Departures and arrivals were on both runways in parallel and sometimes in opposition! By judicious observation of taxying aircraft and some relatively rapid driving from the Speedway to Cheyenne Lane and vice-versa (within speed limits of course), many of the departing aircraft could be captured.
Landings were all from the Speedway end, although on the second day many aircraft used the further of the two runways (21L).
The good news (for me) was that the weather definitely played ball this time with blue skies pretty much all the time – although it was very hot – the car temperature gauge read 111F for extended periods and there was quite a strong wind blowing from the south west. At least it didn’t rain and have high cloud all day like my previous visit for Red Flag 15-4.