964th Airborne Air Control Squadron teams with allies during Red Flag Nellis 22-1

  • Published
  • By Meagan Hannon and 2nd Lt. Leyinzca Bihlajama
  • 552nd Air Control Wing

Advanced aerial exercise Red Flag 22-1 concluded February 11, 2022.

The exercise was the first of three iterations that will take place this year on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

“Participants are encouraged to work together to build a winning team with confidence under fire, integrated leadership, and the warfighter culture,” said Col. Jared Hutchinson, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander.

The exercises, hosted by Nellis AFB’s 414th CTS, are designed to provide service members the experience of intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.

Red Flag 22-1 showcased joint capabilities with U.S. allies and partners from three different nations, welcoming 2,900 participants and over 100 aircraft.

Maj. Jason Bond, 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron air battle manager, attended with the unit’s E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. He served as the Detachment Commander of the E-3 AWACS surveillance mission while there.

Having attended Red Flag multiple times, Bond is no stranger to the exercise. He spoke to the importance of getting it right.

“Peer level threats make it difficult to maintain a tactical advantage,” Bond said. “As a result, we are retrograding preparatory defense mechanisms against these threats, and then mitigating through tactical resolution. The E-3 provides the ability to identify adversarial threats in real-time, and serves as ‘eyes in the sky.”

Bond compared the AWACS mission to sports. “It’s like a football team. We are able to study the aggressor’s strategy, anticipate the adversary, and then forecast their future maneuvers and practice our plays against them. It’s how we maintain our competitive advantage.” 

Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Simon Bracewell serves as a U.K. exchange officer, air battle manager attached to the 964th AACS. He was Bond’s Director of Operations, and was able to provide a unique perspective of the exercise. Though familiar with air combat exercises, this was Bracewell’s first Red Flag experience.

“Red Flag is bigger,” Bracewell said. “It includes an array of aircraft. As we exercise with them we get to see their versatility and various combat tactics. It is a total learning experience.”

While there, Bracewell served as a liaison between the U.S. and U.K. bridging any potential communication gaps between the allies throughout the three week event. He embodied Red Flag’s priority of “success through teamwork.”  

The Royal Australian Air Force also provided an air surveillance function in their newer E-7A Wedgetail aircraft. They fully integrated with the U.K. and the U.S. forces, and showcased the E-7A’s capabilities. RAAF Flight Lieutenant Brayden Whicker, air battle manager on the E-7A, described Red Flag as “…a much more complex and dynamic scenario, that we aren’t able to train for back home.” He added, “This allows us to work with the best of the U.S. and U.K. in a much more complex environment.”