552nd Air Control Wing integrate with 4th and 5th generation fighters at Checkered Flag

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Woodruff 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
  • 552nd Air Control Wing

Members of the 552nd Air Control Wing from Tinker Air Force Base participated in one of the Department of Defense’s largest air-to-air exercises Oct. 30 – Nov. 8 at Tyndall AFB, Florida.

Checkered Flag 24-1 is a large-scale aerial exercise designed to integrate 4th and 5th generation airframes to enhance mobility, deployment, and employment capabilities of aviators and maintainers. The exercise also supports the Commander of Air Combat Command’s plan to train the Immediate Response Force, a dedicated force for ‘Rapid Response’ to unforeseen or unplanned operations.

Nearly 1,000 service members and joint partners deployed to Tyndall AFB for the exercise. Allowing the U.S. to train alongside allied and partner nations is a benefit of Checkered Flag as it strengthens interoperability and deepens the connections with those nations to ensure our collective ability to deter aggression and meet shared challenges.

“We train everyday to deter and defend the nation against any threat,” said Col. Kenneth Voigt, 552nd ACW commander. “Checkered Flag provided our Airmen with the skills to deliver decisive combat airpower to combatant commanders worldwide.”

The Airborne Warning and Control System team were able to control from the air while integrating with the E-7 Wedgetail as well as the Control and Reporting Center at Tyndall AFB. Additionally, the team worked alongside the 81st Air Control Squadron, the only active-duty Air Force squadron authorized to perform Battle Management Command and Control during live-fire air-to-air weapons evaluations as part of the Air Force’s Weapons System Evaluation Program.

“The exercise went well,” said Capt. Michael Breen, E-flight commander with the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron. “The Wedgetail was there along with the E-3, and we were able to work with the Royal Australian Air Force’s 2 Squadron and learn about the E-7 and how it operates, so when the U.S. gets the E-7, we’ll have a good idea of its capability.”

Checkered Flag highlights the U.S.’s only air superiority function with an emphasis on 4th and
5th generation fighter integration.  It is a perfect exercise to implement and test the 552nd ACW’s four priorities; Airmen, Mission Generation, Training, and Innovation. 

Breen said that from the perspective of an Air Battle Manager, it is challenging to keep in mind the legacy airframes and their capabilities while balancing the command and control of 4th and 5th generation fighters.

“This was a unique opportunity to integrate with the most advanced fighters, run through cutting edge tactics and work through the challenge to see how we integrate in those tactics and derive our own tactics to support the next fight,” said Breen.

Checkered Flag illustrates the Air Force accelerating change to its fighter force structure to meet the threat posed by China and Russia, ensuring the Air Force can achieve air superiority and dominance over peer adversaries.