A Red Flag First

For the first time ever, an Air Force Materiel Command unit deployed to participate in a Red Flag combat training exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., earlier this year. The 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., sent personnel and five of its F-16 test aircraft to Red Flag 09-2, which took place Jan. 26 to Feb. 6. The F-16s were equipped with the aircraft’s newest software build, M5.1+, enabling the Edwards testers were able to assess in 54 sorties in realistic scenarios and in the presence of other air assets like the B-2, F-22, and MQ-1. “Red Flag allowed us to provide the most thorough, integrated evaluation of an F-16 software release in the 30-year history of the combined test force,” said Lt. Col. Todd Ericson, commander of the 416th FLTS. Ericson said the squadron’s participation saved taxpayers about $100,000 that otherwise would have had to be spent to reserve dedicated range time somewhere else for similar testing. Plus, some of the activities in which the F-16s participated cannot be duplicated at Edwards. (Edwards report by SrA. Julius Delos Reyes)