NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (ACCNS) -- F-22 Raptors from 94th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., are parked on the flightline during Red Flag Feb. 6 at Nellis AFB, Nev. The exercise sharpens aircrews' warfighting skills in realistic combat situations. The aircraft are flying missions day and night at the nearby Nevada Test and Training Range where they simulate an air war. The Air Force and Navy, along with Australia and the United Kingdom militaries, are participating in the exercise. This is the first deployment to Red Flag for the 94th FS with F-22s. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald)
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (ACCNS) -- An F-22 Raptor from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va., tops off from a KC-135 Stratotanker Feb. 7 during the Red Flag Exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev. Two KC-135s from the 319th Air Refueling Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., make up the lead tanker unit during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Randi Norton)
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (ACCNS) -- An F-22 Raptor flys off the left wing of a KC-135 Stratotanker during the Red Flag Exercise Feb 7. Two KC-135 Stratotankers from the 319th Air Refueling Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base make up the lead tanker unit during the exercise. Red Flag is an exercise designed to hone the warfighting skills of Air Force pilots for conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Randi Norton)
by Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke
Air Combat Command Public Affairs
2/20/2007 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (ACCNS) -- The 94th Fighter Squadron deployed 14 F-22A Raptors and 197 personnel from Langley AFB, Va., to participate in the aircraft's first Red Flag exercise, which ran from Feb. 3 to 16 here.
An official from the 65th Aggressor Squadron said the F-22s demonstrated an extremely lopsided advantage in their favor.
Pilots from the 65th and 64th AS, including exchange pilots from the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Air Force, of Australia and England respectfully, expressed their frustration related to flying against the stealthy F-22.
"The thing denies your ability to put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it through the canopy," said RAAF Squadron Leader Stephen Chappell, F-15 exchange pilot in the 65th AS. "It's the most frustrated I've ever been."
According to Lt. Col. Larry Bruce, 65th AS commander, aggressor pilots turned up the heat on the F-22 using tactics they believe to be modern threats. For security purposes these tactics weren't released; nonetheless, they said their efforts against the Raptors were fruitless.
"We [even] tried to overload them with numbers and failed," said Colonel Bruce. "It's humbling to fly against the F-22." This is a remarkable testimony because the Red Flag aggressor pilots are renowned for their skill and experience. Lt. Col. Dirk Smith, 94th Fighter Squadron commander, said the aggressor forces represent the most lethal threat friendly forces would ever face.
"The training provided by the Red Flag adversaries is like no other on earth," said Colonel Smith. "Our pilots are experiencing a tremendous learning curve."
Despite the F-22's "unfair advantage," Colonel Smith said flying against the Red Force aggressors of the 414th Combat Training Squadron was a demanding task.
"These scenarios are not made to be easy," said Colonel Smith. "The [aggressor] pilots are well trained and good at their job." Aggressor pilots are made up of F-16 and F-15 pilots specially trained to replicate tactics and techniques of potential adversaries according Maj. Bill Woolf, 57th Adversary Tactics Group assistant director of operations.
In addition, Red Flag opposing forces aren't limited to aggressor pilots. There is no shortage of ground threats at Red Flag. These include electronically simulated surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, communications jamming, Global Positioning System jamming and more said Maj. Woolf.
In fact, the Red Flag exercise is now so intense one 414th CTS critique quotes a squadron commander saying "This ain't your daddy's Red Flag anymore."
Although the Raptor did have an "unfair" advantage, Colonel Smith explained "Peyton Manning didn't make it to the Super Bowl by practicing against a scrub team." The goal of Red Flag, he said, is sharpening the Air Force - and that involves grinding away imperfections.
The F-22's debut at the Red Flag exercise is a significant milestone for the jet, according to Lt. Col. Dirk Smith, 94th FS commander. Red Flag is an advanced, realistic combat training exercise designed for fighter pilots, and conducted over the vast Nellis Range Complex - measured 60 by 100 nautical miles.
More than 200 aircraft participated in this Red Flag exercise. Among the foreign aircraft involved were the RAF's GR-4 and RAAF's F-111C. In addition, the F-22s flew with the B-2 Spirit and F-117 Nighthawk, the aircraft that pioneered stealth.