Red Flag’s Back

Red Flag, the Air Force’s top air combat exercise, is back on the books for 2014 after sequestration forced officials to cancel such exercises at Nellis AFB, Nev., and Eielson AFB, Alaska, earlier this year. “That cannot continue,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told reporters at the Pentagon on Dec. 13. Welsh said the $63 billion in sequester relief, included in the two-year budget deal that passed the House last week, “will help us make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Officials at Nellis already are halfway done planning for Red Flag 14-1, which will be held Jan. 27-Feb. 14, and have started work on 14-2 to be held in March. They also expect to announce a third exercise early next year, Nellis spokeswoman A1C Monet Villacorte told the Daily Report. Welsh said the difference between the USAF and other air forces is “not just size. It’s also capability.” He added, “The difference in the US Air Force is the way we train, the level of sophistication in our training, the difficulty of our training…Red Flag is integral to that.” More than 125 aircraft, including USAF F-22s, F-16s, B-2s, F-15s, RC-135s, HH-60s, HC-130Js, and KC-135s, are slated to participate in January’s exercise. Allied participation includes fighters and AWACs from both the Royal Australian Air Force and the British Royal Air Force, according Nellis’ release.