SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. –
By Airman Shawna L. Keyes, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Fourteen of the 4th Fighter Wing’s F-15E Strike Eagles took off for Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in support of Red Flag 16-2, Feb. 25.
The two-week long exercise began Feb. 29 and concludes March 11. The exercise aims to continue training crews in air, space and cyberspace in combat scenarios to prepare for overseas contingences.
“Red flag is a large force joint collision exercise, so we got a lot of other players from other nations and other services,” said Maj. Gabe Lewis, 336th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “The idea of Red Flag is to simulate those first couple days of combat so that when you go out into no kidding combat you’re not deer-in-the-headlights and you’re not struggling to keep up. It is the best exercise to prepare for combat.”
Red Flag was initiated in 1975 and is held annually on the Nevada Test and Training Range, providing realistic combat training for the United States and its allies. The range has more than 15,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land for the aircraft and crews to simulate a multitude of scenarios.
To help prepare for Red Flag and provide additional realistic training for today’s warfighters, members of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina developed a monthly exercise known as Razor Talon, which began in March 2011. It’s about half the size of Red Flag and is a low-cost, large-force training opportunity for joint East Coast tactical and support aviation units.
“Razor Talon provides a safe environment to train joint and combined warriors, using training battlespace available in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, to ensure they are prepared for operational challenges they are likely to face during a contingency,” said Lt. Col. Jason Watson, 4th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations and chief of Razor Talon.
Razor Talon operates with approximately 30 aircraft over the span of one day, whereas Red Flag combines more than 70 aircraft, including those from the Italian and Turkish Air Forces, with exercises spanning over two weeks.
“When I went to Red Flag six years ago we didn’t have Razor Talon,” Lewis said. “I would say the young guys we send out to Red Flag now are much better prepared having gone to Razor Talon before heading out.”