About 80 aircraft have come together for Checkered Flag 21-1—a large-scale, air-to-air exercise off the coast of Florida.
The exercise, which focuses on integrating fourth- and fifth-generation fighters in several scenarios, runs until Nov. 14 at Tyndall Air Force Base. Participating aircraft include Tyndall’s F-22s and T-38s; F-22s from the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; F-35s from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; F-15Es from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; F-15s from the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing; and F/A-18s from Strike Fighter Wing Pacific at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., according to Tyndall. Tankers and mobility aircraft also are participating.
“Checkered Flag is amazing,” 325th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Greg Moseley said in a release. “It is one of the largest air-to-air exercises that the Air Force holds, and there is no better location to execute training on this scale than at Tyndall.”
The exercise takes place in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico airspace, which includes more than 101,000 square miles of airspace for training.
“Our ranges connect to have several hundred miles in all directions to be able to train and execute like we fight,” Moseley said in the release. “You can take off from this airfield and turn south and you’re right in the airspace ready to train.”
For the 3rd Wing’s F-22s, the exercise is a homecoming of sorts. The Raptors originally were based in Florida before being reassigned to JBER following 2018’s Hurricane Michael. Tyndall had canceled some exercises following the storm, which caused extensive damage, before resuming with Checkered Flag 19-1 in May 2019.