Red Flag 16-4 held at Nellis AFB, Nevada between August 15th and 26th and once again I was fortunate enough to be able to get there.
Participants for Red flag 16-4 had not been widely publicised in advance due to the sensitive nature of the air forces involved. There was a mixture of what would appear to be, on paper at least, opposing sides in world conflicts. This caused the Israeli’s to park their jets at the oppossing side of the base, far away from the Pakistani and UAE jets. Also the IAF pilots avoided coming nearby any photographers lenses, by recovering at the far away runway 03L/21R instead of making use of runway 03R at the Speedway side.
The participants of Red Flag 16-4 included:
- Pakistan Air Force F-16C / F-16D’s (5 sqdn ‘Falcons’, Shahbaz)
- UAE Air Force F-16E / F-16F’s (Al Dahfra)
- Israeli Air Force F-16I’s (107 sqdn, Hatzerim; 119, 201 and 253 sqdn, Ramon)
- Israeli Air Force Boeing 707’s
- Spanish Air Force EF-18M’s Ala 12, Torrjon; Ala 15, Zaragoza)
- Spanish Air Force KC-130’s (Ala 31, Zaragoza)
- USAF F-15E’s from 389FS and 391FS based at Mountain Home, ID
- USAF F-15E’s from 492FS based at RAF Lakenheath, UK
- USAF F-15C’s from 122FS based at NAS JRB New Orleans, LA
- USAF F-16C’s from 55FS based at Shaw AFB, SC
- USAF E-3A’s from 552ACW based at Tinker AFB, OK
- USAF HC-130J’s from 71RQS based at Moody AFB, GA
- USNavy MH-60’s from HS-6 based at NAS North Island, CA
- Draken International Douglas A-4K Skyhawks
The main enemy of Red Flag 16-4 was not a foreign power, though. It was the weather and circumstance. A TA-4K Skyhawk of Draken International was lost on the morning of the first Thursday of the exercise. It suffered an engine failure as it turned downwind to land, returning from a Weapons School sortie. Additionally an HH-60G Pavehawk went down on the range that night. Thankfully all the crewmembers escaped these incidents, with only minor injuries. There was no flying on Friday although this was apparently weather related rather than a safety stand down. The following Monday evening a torrential storm swept across the base causing flash floods which covered the ramp and runways with debris. They were closed on the Tuesday as crews cleaned up.
And always good to see the local Nellis players: