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Red Flag 17-1 pushes domain, fifth-gen integration

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, 6th Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, prepares the cockpit for take-off during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017.The Typhoon trained alongside the F-35A Lightning II for the first time at Red Flag preparing the RAF pilots for the introduction of the F-35B to the Royal Air Force and Navy. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, 6th Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, prepares the cockpit for take-off during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017.The Typhoon trained alongside the F-35A Lightning II for the first time at Red Flag preparing the RAF pilots for the introduction of the F-35B to the Royal Air Force and Navy. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, 6th Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, secures his helmet during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017. With the integration of cyber and space in battlefield domains, fifth generation fighter aircraft are better able to support fourth-generations like the Typhoon in suppressing enemy targets. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, 6th Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, secures his helmet during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017. With the integration of cyber and space in battlefield domains, fifth generation fighter aircraft are better able to support fourth-generations like the Typhoon in suppressing enemy targets. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, 6th Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, walks to his aircraft during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017. The Royal Air Force and Australian Air Force participated in 17-1 alongside their U.S. partners to enhance tactics, techniques and procedures in air, space and cyber domains. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jonny Mulhall, 6th Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, walks to his aircraft during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 7, 2017. The Royal Air Force and Australian Air Force participated in 17-1 alongside their U.S. partners to enhance tactics, techniques and procedures in air, space and cyber domains. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon maintainer uncovers a Typhoon’s intake during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb 7, 2016. The Typhoon is an agile multi-role fighter that has worked with the F-22 Raptor in contingency and training operations, and is now training with both the Raptor and F-35A Lighting II. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon maintainer uncovers a Typhoon’s intake during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb 7, 2016. The Typhoon is an agile multi-role fighter that has worked with the F-22 Raptor in contingency and training operations, and is now training with both the Raptor and F-35A Lighting II. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

An F-22 Raptor flies over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during Red Flag 17-1 Jan. 26, 2017. The Raptor is a multi-role stealth fighter aircraft that not only suppresses its own targets, but provides support for U.S. and coalition fourth-generation aircraft targeting as well. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

An F-22 Raptor flies over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during Red Flag 17-1 Jan. 26, 2017. The Raptor is a multi-role stealth fighter aircraft that not only suppresses its own targets, but provides support for U.S. and coalition fourth-generation aircraft targeting as well. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor pilot conducts a walk-around his aircraft before boarding during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan 26, 2017. The Raptors out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., are working alongside the F-35A Lightning II to suppress enemy targets and provide targeting and cover for fourth-generation aircraft. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor pilot conducts a walk-around his aircraft before boarding during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan 26, 2017. The Raptors out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., are working alongside the F-35A Lightning II to suppress enemy targets and provide targeting and cover for fourth-generation aircraft. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor pilot secures his helmet before takeoff during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan 26, 2017. This is the first Red Flag in which Raptors are working alongside F-35A Lightning II’s to secure air dominance and provide cover for fourth generation assets. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor pilot secures his helmet before takeoff during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan 26, 2017. This is the first Red Flag in which Raptors are working alongside F-35A Lightning II’s to secure air dominance and provide cover for fourth generation assets. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor pilot waits for his signal to taxi for takeoff during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan 26, 2017. The 1st FW pilots are integrating with cyber and space fields to better support the fourth-and fifth-generation joint and coalition aircraft. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A 1st Fighter Wing F-22 Raptor pilot waits for his signal to taxi for takeoff during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan 26, 2017. The 1st FW pilots are integrating with cyber and space fields to better support the fourth-and fifth-generation joint and coalition aircraft. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon takes off during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 26, 2017. The Typhoon is a fourth-generation fighter aircraft that has conducted it’s training missions at Red Flag with support from U.S. Air Force fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

A Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon takes off during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 26, 2017. The Typhoon is a fourth-generation fighter aircraft that has conducted it’s training missions at Red Flag with support from U.S. Air Force fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

An F-35A Lightning II flies over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during Red Flag 17-1 Jan. 26, 2017. This was the first time the F-35A participated in a Red Flag, during which it provided defensive counter air, air interdiction and dynamic targeting measures. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
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An F-35A Lightning II flies over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during Red Flag 17-1 Jan. 26, 2017. This was the first time the F-35A participated in a Red Flag, during which it provided defensive counter air, air interdiction and dynamic targeting measures. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

An F-35A Lightning II pilot from the 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepares to take-off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 24, 2017, during Red Flag 17-1. While deployed to Red Flag, the F-35 will train with fourth- and fifth-generation platforms, and provide offensive and defensive counter air, suppression of enemy air defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
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An F-35A Lightning II pilot from the 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepares to take-off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 24, 2017, during Red Flag 17-1. While deployed to Red Flag, the F-35 will train with fourth- and fifth-generation platforms, and provide offensive and defensive counter air, suppression of enemy air defenses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

Maintainers from the 419th and 388th Fighter Wings conduct  preflight checks on an F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 24, 2017. Airmen from the active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the Lightning II in a total force partnership, capitalizing on the strength of both components. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
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Maintainers from the 419th and 388th Fighter Wings conduct preflight checks on an F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, during Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 24, 2017. Airmen from the active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the Lightning II in a total force partnership, capitalizing on the strength of both components. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

As coalition pilots, intelligence analysts and cyber and space operators convene at the Nevada Test and Training Range, north of Las Vegas, for Red Flag 17-1, they have one goal in mind: work together to defeat the adversary, which at times is 20 living adversaries simultaneously working to attack allied forces on a multi-domain battlefield.

 

Integration across domains and platforms is an essential practice the realistic combat training exercise emphasizes.

 

“It’s in our slogan; air, space and cyber space. These are the domains that we operate in. We can fight a war in an air domain only, but we are more effective when you add in cyber and space,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Peter Fesler, Red Flag Air Expeditionary commander and commander of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia’s, 1st Fighter Wing.  “All the capabilities in those domains when combined produce enhanced effects that are more lethal against our adversary.”

 

Throughout the exercise, fifth-generation fighters - the F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II - have incorporated intelligence, cyber and space information to better support fourth-generation pilots by suppressing targets and dominating airspace.

 

“The F-22 and F-35 were designed to work together,” said Fesler. “This is the first time we’ve taken the F-22, the F-35 and all of those capabilities the Air Forces of the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia can bring to bear, and put them together in the airspace at the same time to fight together against a realistic threat.”

 

According to U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Dave DeAngelis, 419th Fighter Wing detachment commander at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, in this Red Flag, pilots saw approximately three to four surface-to-air missiles in one scenario. They can’t always be seen by the naked eye, which is how integration with cyber and space come into effect in aiding the fifth-generation fighters with finding targets for the fourth-generation assets to attack.

 

“That’s what’s nice about this Red Flag, there are so many assets out here,” said DeAngelis. “It’s been great working with our intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance assets. They’re able to give us a general location of targets and we’re able to refine it, and hand it off to our British partners that have phenomenal air-to-ground weapons and they’re able to take out those moving targets for us.”

 

For Royal Air Force Group Commander Graham Pemberton, AEW deputy commander, this Red Flag not only gives the United Kingdom and Australia the opportunity to enhance tactics, practices and procedures across domains with their U.S. allies, but it is also helping them better understand the capabilities of their next aircraft: The F-35B.

 

“We’ve worked really closely with the Raptor over the last couple of years, so we’re looking forward with how we’re going to do that with the Lightning as well,” said Pemberton. “(Red Flag) is a great insight into how we’ll maximize those synergies and how the Royal Air Force will use their own Lightning, so that’s been a fantastic opportunity.”

 

Two weeks into the exercise, Pemberton noticed that the effects of the Raptor and Lightning are different, yet complimentary in defeating an advanced enemy in the air and on the surface.

 

“We use the (Lightning) in a subtly different way,” explained Pemberton. “It’s being shielded to go into the most deep and complex environments as a lethal scalpel with the Raptor providing the overall control of the air in time and space to get the job done as well, which is working in a complementary fashion with the fourth-generation fighters giving us a massive amount of fire power.”

 

For Pemberton, continuing training with both fifth-generation fighters alongside fourth-generation assets is vital to success in a multifaceted battlefield.

 

“I think what has really changed with the fifth generation is how are we going to take on what we face in the future with really complex surface-to-air missile systems and layered defense systems that we have to try and unpick,” said Pemberton. “Space helps us go over it, cyber helps us go under and through it, and fifth-generation assets with fourth-generation support help us go into it, and Lightning with Raptor gives us the real ability to do that on our terms.”