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Red Flag 21-2 underway at Nellis

Aircraft lands on the flight line.

An F-35A Lightning II fighter jet assigned to the 62nd Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, lands for Red Flag 21-2 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, March 4, 2021. The unit has highly-experienced coalition instructor pilots who will be in a unique position to mentor U.S. and coalition participants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dwane R. Young)

NELLIS Air Force Base. Nev. --

Southern Nevada residents may notice an increase in military aircraft activity March 8-19 as Nellis Air Force Base begins Red Flag 21-2, one of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat training exercises.

The 57th Wing’s 414th Combat Training Squadron (CTS) conducts Red Flag exercises to provide mission commanders, maintenance personnel, ground controllers, and air, space and cyber operators the opportunity to experience realistic combat scenarios in preparation for future warfare.


Red Flag exercises strive to increase the interoperability of U.S. and allied forces with the aim of creating agile problem-solvers with the ability to correct decision-making under incredible pressure.

“Red Flag Nellis 21-2 is an advanced coalition exercise with key Allies and coalition partners. Working together as integrated teams, they will fight as a single, coherent team, forging partnerships and cementing relationships we need for future mission success,” said Col. William Reese, 414th CTS commander.

This iteration of Red Flag will host 2,500 U.S. and international participants from a dozen states, Singapore, Sweden and seven NATO member nations. The 20th Fighter Wing from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, will take the lead wing position as nearly 100 aircraft, such as the F-35, F-16, EA-18G, B-1, KC-135, AWACs, and HH-60 participate in complex mission scenarios against aggressor forces.

“As the core wing, we are charged with ensuring our U.S. and coalition units have the support needed to safely train together in the challenging threat scenarios that Red Flag is known for,” said Col. Robert T. Raymond, 20th Operations Group commander and RF 21-2 Air Expeditionary Wing commander.

The inclusion of coalition members on all levels at Red Flag serves to galvanize the warfighting force and offers Shaw AFB and other U.S. Air Force members the opportunity to integrate with its allies.

“Nellis is where we practice the advanced integrated tactics needed to prevail in combat against peer adversaries. We train like we will fight—as joint and coalition forces,” said Raymond. This exercise will focus on advanced counter-air tactics, dynamic air-to-ground targeting and real-time risk analysis for personnel recovery. Our ability to integrate, plan and debrief at Red Flag will be instrumental to our success in the next fight.”

To accelerate U.S and coalition forces’ understanding of near peer adversary tactics, Red Flag will challenge participants with threats and warfare specific to those adversaries.

“Red Flag-Nellis 21-2 is designed to meet the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s intent for his ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’ action orders,” said Reese. “In our 46th year of execution and leveraging all of our unique and common perspectives against shared threats, Red Flag continues to develop agile combat leaders who can handle any changes and achieve mission success without exceeding acceptable risk levels. This is the critical at the tactical level for great power competition.”