144th Fighter Wing Flies High at Red Flag 2016

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. David J. Loeffler
  • 144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
F-15 Eagles, F-16 Falcons, F-18 Hornets, F-22 Hornets and a host of other airframes launch seamlessly, high into the desert skies above Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada during Red Flag 2016-01.

The multinational exercise brings Airmen participation from throughout the world and is the U.S. Air Force's premier air-to-air combat training exercise. The 144th Fighter Wing, based out of Fresno, Calif., joined with a host of United States' Air Force units and allied nations' combat air forces to participate in multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.

"Red Flag is really the only exercise we do in the Air Force that brings all the resources and capabilities of the United States Air Force together into one scenario, on a very complex range and against a very complex adversary, the types of adversaries we would see in the real world," said U.S. Air Force Col. Clay Garrison, 144th FW commander. "We are able to bring together our space, our cyber and all of our airplanes with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.  All of this comes together in this one scenario and then we apply it to a very complex adversary, so that we ensure that all of our systems can talk to each other and employ in a network fashion. That is what makes us different from our adversary.  It's our ability to network and employ, as an organization, against complex scenarios."

The 144th FW has been equipped with F-15 Eagles for only two and a half years and with the recent conversion of the Wing from F-16 Falcons, completion of the Red Flag exercise will validate the people, planes, and weapon systems.

"Red flag is our capstone event and demonstrates that we have learned the complete weapon system, that the whole base has learned how to sustain and support the weapon system and that our pilots are able to deploy the weapon system in combat," stated Garrison.  "We can declare to General Carlisle (Commander, Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.) that the 144th FW is ready to go to combat in support of our nation's requirements."

The intensive testing of ground crew and pilots took place in a variety of weather conditions and in both daylight and evening hours.

"The United States' military is a 24 hour a day combat organization," expressed Garrison.  "That is something that makes us unique because it doesn't matter the day, the time, the weather, we want to be able to hold back the adversary risk from our air, space, and cyberspace domain. You want to practice in peace what you expect in war, so that you can do it efficiently and you know that you can be successful.  That's were doing here. "

The Red Flag exercise comes to its completion in mid-February, 2016.