Red Flag 24-2: Advancing F-35 interoperability at Nellis

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jimmy Cummings
  • 57 Wing Public Affairs

Nellis welcomes more than 1,500 participants from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Air National Guard and the Royal Netherlands Air Force for Red Flag-Nellis 24-2 from March 10-23.

Red Flag is a large-force exercise during which the 414th Combat Training Squadron designs complex scenarios designed to elevate air combat skills for the 15 participating units’ diverse set of aircraft, including the RNLAF’s F-35 Lightning II.   

The F-35 has been one of the most effective integration tools for NATO since the end of the Cold War.''
Gen. James Hecker, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander

"Red Flag-Nellis is a pivotal exercise for fostering F-35 interoperability on an international scale,” said Col. Eric Winterbottom, 414th CTS commander. “It forges bonds and strategies for seamless cooperation among our diverse airframes, emphasizing the importance of interoperability in modern warfare."


Recently, an increasing number of European nations have begun adding F-35s to its force. By 2030, more than 600 F-35s are expected to be operational in the region. NATO countries including Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Czechia have committed to purchasing the fifth-generation fighter.

“The F-35 stands out as one of NATO’s most effective integration tools since the end of the Cold War,” said Gen. James Hecker, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander. “With both U.S. and non-U.S. pilots flying the same cutting-edge aircraft, we gain a seamless exchange of tactical data over advanced datalinks. In the wake of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, U.S. and Dutch F-35s flew missions together in a single four-ship formation on the eastern flank.”

Gen. Hecker continued to emphasize the pivotal role of integrating fifth-generation assets in Europe to establish a credible and robust deterrent posture. The objective is for any F-35, regardless of the owning nation, to have the capability to land at any nation’s F-35 base to refuel, repair, rearm and swiftly return to the fight. 


Red Flag-Nellis 24-2 introduces complex target areas, camouflage techniques and realistic scenarios focused on the European theater. The 64th, 65th, and 706th Aggressor Squadrons refine threat replication with advanced advisory air capabilities, intensifying training in contested environments.

The 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho will serve as the core wing for this iteration of Red Flag. Both, F-35 and F-15 aircraft, will participate as blue forces. The 56th Wing from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, will bring F-16 Top Aces, a private ADAIR service contractor, to provide adversary support.