From the IAF: The multinational air exercise ‘Exercise Red Flag’ presently underway at Air Force base Nellis, Nevada, USA has today entered its final ‘RUN’ phase following the crawl, walk and run pattern of exercising. The team IAF is participating with eight Su-30s, two IL-78s, an IL-76 and 247 air warriors.
During this phase of the exercise, a present day air campaign is replicated, in which opposition forces or the ‘Aggressors’ F16 and F15s, are the air to air and air to ground threats to the Blue Land and its forces. Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) such as SA2, SA3, SA6 and SA8 along with long and short range quick reaction missiles are always present to neutralize the friendly Blue forces. The Red land always keeps shifting their SAM sites making it difficult for the Blue Forces.
Owing to these facts, the Blue Forces have to typically carry out certain missions, in which they sanities the air space first by removing or eliminating the enemy airfields, destroying the aircraft and SAM sites. These tasks are carried out by ‘Strike Packages’ comprising the Su30s flying along with the US Air Force F15s and F16s, ‘Prowlers’ of US Navy, Rafales of the French Air Force and F15s of the Korean Air Force. Once the Red Air is sanitized the Blue Force strike package goes about its task in which they are assisted by KC-135 and IL-178 tankers, AWACS of USAF and the Compass Call ( a USAF Boeing aircraft used for Electronic Warfare).
An interesting aspect of the Air War between the Red and the Blue forces is that the aggressors use all possible means to gather intelligence from the Blue forces. This they use against the Blue forces in air. Thus it is imperative on part of all the Blue force personnel not to give away any information to unauthorized person as he or she could be a Red Land ‘Spy’.
The success of the missions in these air campaigns is dependent on the situational awareness of all persons involved. Hence the network centric operations are the pivots on which the difference of life and death rests. The main challenge during the exercise for the team IAF has been to adapt to the USAF network and also carry out ‘Stand Alone’ tasks simultaneously. The young IAF pilots (average age late 20s) have done this with amazing dexterity.
Captain Marcus ‘Spike’ Wilson of the USAF Aggressors in his appreciation of the team IAF said “IAF is a world class Air Force with great aircraft and great leadership. It’s a great training opportunity for USAF and IAF to integrate our assets in training environment. We would like to have IAF here as a regular participant”.