144th FW participates in Red Flag 16-01
By Senior Airman Klynne Pearl Serrano , 144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 26, 2016
FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. -- After almost two decades, the 144th Fighter Wing will participate in Red Flag 16-01 scheduled to take place at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada from Jan. 25 to Feb. 12, 2016.
Red Flag is a realistic combat training exercise which involves air, space and cyber forces from the U.S. and its allies. Red Flag is one of the advanced training programs given by the organizations assigned to the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, which is conducted at the Nevada Test and Training Range.
"The 144th Fighter Wing's objective during the Red Flag exercise is to demonstrate proficiency in the Counter Air mission by operationally and logistically planning, deploying, executing combat-representative sorties, and re-deploying eight F-15's in support of Red Flag tasking--all this, while still accomplishing the 1st Air Force, Continental North American Aerospace Defense Command Region mission at home base," said Maj. Benjamin Leestma, 144th FW Red Flag project officer.
The 144th FW hasn't deployed overseas in support of combat operations since 2001 and therefore has not participated in Red Flag exercises since the late 1990's.
"This was due in part to the unit flying the F-16 and a focus on homeland defense," Leestma said.
Since the 144th FW's aircraft conversion from the F-16C Flying Falcon to the F-15C Eagle, initiated in 2013, this will be the 144th FW's first time flying the F-15s at Red Flag. The 144th FW's performance during Red Flag will be essential to reaching full operational capability, or FOC.
"This Red Flag is an important final step in our conversion from the F-16 to the F-15," said Col. Clay Garrison, 144th FW commander. "Red Flag is a combat representative exercise that gives our Airmen the opportunity to demonstrate our full combat capabilities just prior to declaring full operational capability. It's a huge milestone for the men and women of the Wing."
Once FOC is declared, the 144th FW will be obligated to remain tactically trained and ready to respond to contingency operations anywhere in the world.
Various units around the base worked together to plan for Red Flag and both operations, maintenance, and support elements will participate in the exercise in Nevada.
"I have been impressed with my planning team's effort to work cohesively toward a common goal," Leestma said. "Our operations, maintenance and mission support groups stepped up to the challenge and continue to showcase the F-15C Eagle's greatness."