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The familiar roar of America’s airpower filled the skies over Las Vegas and the Nevada Test and Training Range, which signaled the start of another Red Flag exercise. However, participants of this iteration found themselves facing unfamiliar opposition as the first, dedicated fifth-generation aggressor force took to the skies for Red Flag-Nellis 22-3.

More than 20 units and approximately 2,300 participants arrived at Nellis Air Force Base to take part in the final Red Flag of 2022. Greeting them were the pilots of the newly re-activated 65th Aggressor Squadron, and the 57th Operations Group’s dedicated multi-domain aggressor force.

In his welcoming remarks, the 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, Col. Jared Hutchinson described Red Flag-Nellis 22-3 as unlike any previous Red Flags before it.

“The Aggressor Nation will be unleashed as they refine threat replication, apply advanced threats and jamming capabilities, and increase threat capabilities to maximize training in non-permissive environments,” Hutchinson said. “The airspace is also much different with almost twice as much fight airspace and inclusion of neighboring airspace opportunities to optimize Blue and Red Force tactics.”

This Red Flag also featured extended night operations and enhanced combat search and rescue scenarios, in addition to a greatly expanded battle space, all integrated to provide the most true-to-life training experience and designed to prepare Airmen to face pacing challenges in the Pacific and elsewhere.

The 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, is the lead wing for a diverse joint force such as the F-35A/C Lightning II, F-22 Raptor, B-1B Lancer, E-3 Sentry, E-8C Joint Stars, EA-18G Growler, F-15E Strike Eagle, HC-130J Combat King II, KC-135 Stratotanker, RC-135V/W Rivet Joint , HH-60G Pave Hawk, and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Air National Guard.

They had the difficult task of solving the complex tactical problem sets posed by the aggressor force, while gaining realistic combat experience in an advanced training environment that can only be found at Nellis AFB.

In his remarks upon taking command of the 57th Wing, June 30, Brig. Gen. Richard Goodman highlighted the importance and the urgency of being ready to face pacing challenges, and the role exercises such as Red Flag 22-3 play in that preparation.

“Make no mistake about it, across the security environment, the stakes are huge for our country, for our Air Force and for the joint force,” Goodman said. “But the good news is the 57th Wing has the right Airmen and the right leaders on task, laser-focused on training our Air Force, the joint force, our allies and partners for the next fight, the high-end fight.”

With matching the best of our combat aircraft against the most advanced adversaries they have seen until now, Red Flag-Nellis 22-3 helped prepare U.S. warfighters to meet and overcome tactical challenges at a level they have never encountered before.

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