11/14/08 — Chiefs return from training mission with Allied air crews

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Chiefs return from training mission with Allied air crews

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 14, 2008 1:46 PM

U.S. Air Force

335th maintainers prepare a 4th Fighter Wing F-15E Strike Eagle for its daily exercises during Red Flag. The exercise allowed Allied forces to train together.

Maj. Jarrett Lewis called it training for "the big war" -- two weeks at Red Flag, an advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base.

He and other members of the 4th Fighter Wing's 335th Fighter Squadron said it was an honor to participate in the event, one which saw air and maintenance crews from four countries converge on a base in the Nevada desert.

But Lewis and his comrades hope they never have to use the training they received.

"You're training for the (war) you hope won't ever happen," Lewis said.

Even so, it was a thrill for the Chiefs to participate in another major Air Force exercise.

Crews and aircraft from Singapore, Spain and Greece joined American forces for the training -- set up as a "campaign" in which air crews had to fight their way to targets, "take out" enemy strongholds and fight their way back to safety.

Capt. Domenic Easton said working with American allies was a critical part of the exercise.

"They are some of the ones we are going to work with when we go to Afghanistan," he said.

Also valuable was the chance for some of the younger members of the squadron to see some action -- even if no real bullets were flying.

"There are no stakes because nobody is really getting shot ... but the added stress of 60 aircraft in the same airspace ... above you, below you ... it was probably the most stress our young airmen have been in," Lewis said. "Ever."

The Chiefs took 14 F-15E Strike Eagles and 183 personnel to the desert.

Other aircraft in the skies were: F-15C, KC-135R, HC-130, A-10, F-16s from Singapore and Greece and F-18s from Spain.

The Chiefs flew 212 sorties and logged roughly 350 hours at Red Flag.

In a typical Red Flag exercise, "friendly Blue Forces" engage "hostile Red Forces" in realistic combat situations.

Blue Forces are composed of units from Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, United States Air Forces Europe, Pacific Air Forces, the Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force Reserve, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, the Canadian Air Force as well as other allied air forces. Red Forces are composed of the 57th Wing's 57th Adversary Tactics Group, flying F-16s and F-15s to provide realistic air threats through the emulation of opposition tactics.