Oldest flying squadron in existence flies high in Red Flag 15-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Thomas Spangler
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Ever since air superiority became vital in any armed conflict, the Royal Air Force's 1 (Fighter) Squadron has been on the leading edge of that superiority.

The squadron has been involved in every major conflict the United Kingdom has been involved in from the First World War to present day operations in Afghanistan.

Perhaps one of the most famous battles the squadron was involved in was the Battle of Britain during World War II. 2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the battle, during which the RAF was able to successfully repel the Luftwaffe from gaining air superiority over the U.K. prior to a German land invasion.

"1 (Fighter) Squadron at the outbreak of the war was in France and conducted a fighting retreat before joining some 65 other RAF squadrons in the defense of the homeland," said Wing Commander Dylan Eklund, an RAF media officer. "Of course the Battle of Britain has a particular resonance with the U.K., as had the RAF not been successful, more than likely we'd be speaking German."

Though the squadron has come to Red Flag 15-1 with nearly a century of experience and a strong legacy, they remain eager to learn all they can from the training exercises.

"It is experience that we're bringing at the moment," said RAF Squadron Leader Jan De-Vry, officer commanding mission support flight for 1 (Fighter) Squadron. "Though not every pilot is selected for experience, we're bringing a selection from the squadron and other squadrons so that they gain training experience from flying in exercise Red Flag."

Red Flag provides realistic air combat training exercises during which U.S. and allied nation air crews, known as the 'Blue Forces', conduct mock combat against aggressor aircraft, who are known as the 'Red Forces', over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

"Red Flag is the closest you can get to an all-out war without actually going to war," De-Vry said. "For us to be able to use this airspace, this range, the amount of aircraft working, coalition partners, which we more often do with the U.S., is second-to-none."

Pilots and aircrews are pushed to their limits while training to make sure they are successful in real combat.

"It's a tough environment for them to fly in, they're by no means walking into this relaxed. They're working hard, planning hard and flying hard," De-Vry said.

Allied nations working together in Red Flag is paramount because any future real-world conflicts will be fought as a coalition force.

"Any future war is pretty much going to be as a coalition of some sort, so interoperability is extremely important," De-Vry said. "We need to learn from each other's tactics, we need to learn how to communicate with each other. It builds rapport, it builds understanding and credibility."

It's vital that the nations learn each other's weapons systems, tactics and language in a training environment so they will be that much more prepared and effective in real combat.

Two-thirds of the way through, 1 (Fighter) Squadron has learned valuable experiences from Red Flag and plans to share the lessons learned with the entire RAF.

"The first few days have proven very successful," De-Vry said. "When we start doing the post-exercise analysis it's going to be hugely valuable. It's going to be spread throughout the force in one form or another and it'll take us to another level."

1 (Fighter) Squadron expects to gain valuable training experience which it plans to apply to future real-world conflicts.

Through this training, the squadron will be able to charge head-first into combat maintaining its age old motto: In omnibus princeps - First in all things.