Desert Falcons Travel Afar for Red Flag

The United Arab Emirates dispatched a squadron of its F-16 Block 60 fighters from its home station to join in USAF’s Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev. This is the first time that UAE F-16s have traversed the Atlantic Ocean for this purpose. Members of Shaheen 3 Squadron flew approximately 9,000 miles, surmounting diplomatic challenges to rendezvous with refueling tankers en route. “Our goal is to strengthen our training and partnership with the United States and to build up interoperability with the US,” explained Lt. Col. Buti Al Neyadi, Shaheen 3 commander. UAE Desert Falcons first flew at Red Flag in 2009, but that time they only had to shuttle the short distance from Tucson, Ariz., where the UAE’s F-16 pilots formerly trained with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing. This iteration of Red Flag, RF 11-2, concludes Friday. (Nellis report by SSgt. Benjamin Wilson)