By Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 493rd Fighter Squadron, along with supporting units and equipment from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, completed Red Flag 17-2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, March 10.
During the two-week exercise, the squadron flew 162 sorties and tallied more than 348 flying hours with 14 F-15 Eagles, which is a new record for a unit of this size at Red Flag.
“The Reapers did great,” said Col. Jason Zumwalt, 493rd FS commander. “We’ve had an outstanding maintenance team giving us great jets every day. We’ve been able to put a lot of aircraft into these fights, and my pilots have gone out there and done very well against an extremely difficulty adversary.”
The Reapers, along with other joint and coalition Red Flag participants, trained above the vast bombing and gunnery ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range against opposing “aggressors,” who are specially trained to replicate tactics and techniques used by potential adversaries.
“You learn how to be better at what you do,” one 493rd FS pilot said. “From the youngest guy who has just qualified, to the two-ship flight leads, you learn how to be better at your position and how to bring you and your wingmen back from a mission.”
Red Flag provides aircrews and support personnel an opportunity to experience advanced, relevant, and realistic combat-like situations in a controlled environment. The exercise goal is to safely complete missions with an emphasis on disciplined initiatives, prudent risk-taking and comprehensive problem solving against agile adversaries in uncertain, contested environments.
“It’s been a great opportunity to take the team on the road, exercise from a deployed environment, and really practice what we would do in an actual combat situation,” Zumwalt said. “I’m very proud of the work that the maintenance support and ops team have done to generate the air power and exercise air superiority over the Nellis ranges.”
The 493rd FS will conclude their visit to Nellis by participating in sorties for the U. S. Air Force Weapons School, then continue on to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to take part in the Weapons System Evaluation Program in April.