Supercruise Aviation - Article
Nellis, Red Flag 12-04

Red Flag 12-4 was held at Nellis AFB between 16 and 27 July. I visited Nellis during the first week of the exercise. The weather started out a bit cloudy and even some rain as a leftover from a coldfront that brought some heavy rain the week before.

The schedule was pretty full to be able to make a complete report. I was planning to stay for 5 days shooting pictures from the outside, mediaday and tankerflight . First 2 days started with launches and recoveries from runway 21 forcing aircraft to break right after takeoffs to avoid McCarran airspace. This gives you great photopossibilities especially during the (late) afternoon.

There was a nice variety of aircraft participating, first timers were the Colombians bringing 8 Kfirs from 111 sqn to Nellis supported by a KC-137 and a KC-767 tanker.
Other foreigners were the UAE bringing their F-16E/F models. The Columbians came prepared, heaving worked up at Davis Monthan AFB for two weeks, finetuning skills and procedures, before heading to Nellis.

The hometeam brought in units from the airforce, navy and marines. Navy (VAQ-209) and Marines (VMAQ-3) both send some EA-6B’s for surpression of enemy airdefences. The Prowlers of VAQ-209 are soon to be replaced by the new EA-18G Growler. SEAD was completed by F-16’s from Eglin and Nellis. One of the Eglinbirds was painted in the new scheme used to better absorb radar.

The 493 FS from Leakenheath took care of airdefense with their F-15C’s. Groundcrew had to work hard to keep the aircraft serviceable. Airframes had to adapt to the dry desert air and high temperatures at Nellis, something completely different from cold and wet climate in the UK according to a technician.

Strikers consisted of F-16’s from Hill AFB, A-10’s from Moody’s Flying Tigers, B-1’s from Ellsworth AFB and B-52’s from Barksdale AFB.
Support was flown by E-3’s from Tinker AFB and KC-135’s from Fairchild AFB and H-60 helo’s from Nellis AFB.

Red Flag wouldn’t be Red Flag without the Agressors from the 64th and 65th Agressor Squadron. Recently they have starting changing some of the paintscheme’s. Already familiar in Alaska, Arctic painted F-16’s are now also used at Nellis. Some F-15’s adapted the new splinterscheme used by Flankers in some airforces.

I would like to thank Lt Balch and her staff from public affairs for setting everything up and their support on base.

By Hans Antonissen