The Red Flag exercise is a 2 week long American advance aerial combat training exercise held at and around at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, the latter location being known as 'Red Flag– Alaska'. The exercise was the successor to the previous Cope Thunder exercise series in the Western Pacific and Alaska.
The purpose is to train the pilots and other flight crew members real life air combat situations including the use of "enemy" hardware such American aircraft similar to enemy designs or on occasion some use of replica and defector's Soviet kit in the Cold War in order to get to appreciate it's actual performance in combat. As a norm T-38 Talon, F-5, F-16 and F-15 aircraft to roley played as respectively as the MiG-21, Tiger II, MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-30 Flanker fighters. It can be said that, he who fights an American owned MiG fighter or it's American near equivalent in training will be better at destroying a Soviet/Russian MiG fighter in real life combat situation over N. Korea or were ever. Planning, tactics, briefings, lodgistics and debriefings are dealt with in detail.
It was first put forward in 1972 after America had realised how badly its fighters were doing in the Vietnam War during the June and July 1972 compared to initial expectations and overall results since 1965, so planning started on a exercise to remady this in 1973. Its first operation was laid out in 1974 and ii has been flown ever since 1975, with air crews from the United States Air Force (USAF), United States Navy (USN), United States Marine Corps (USMC), United States Army (USA) and numerous NATO or other Western allied nations' air forces have thus taken part over the years. The UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Thailand, Greece, Germany, Belgium and France had been to it according to a BBC news report I remember from the mid 1990's.
For added reality only live ammunition was used for the bombing exercises within the adjacent Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR).
The U.S. Navy operates a similar avanced level, large-force training exercise, centered at and around the Fallon Naval Air Weapons Center in northern Nevada. The event is informally called Strike University by the naval aviators.
When the 416th Flight Test Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, also participated in the exercise Red Flag in 2009, it was first time an Air Force Material Command (AFMC) unit had been part of the training program. Actual and copied MiG-15s and MiG-17s have been reported as being used on occasion.
Military experts have suggested that Altes Lager/Jüterbog Airfield had been copied by the United States Air Force, as part of its Tolicha Peak Electronic Combat Range (TPECR), which is situated in the western part of the Nevada Test and Training Range for use it the USAF Red Flag exercises.
- Brazil (July 1998,August 2008 and February 2013)
- Chile (July 1998)
- Colombia (July 2012)
- New Zealand
- Pakistan (2010)
- Poland (June 2012)
- Portugal (March 2000)
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- Venezuela (not for the last few years)