Red Flag Firsts

The US-only iteration of the 2016 Red Flag exercises is underway, with two unique features. Red Flag 16-3 is the first of the Air Force’s premier air combat training exercises commanded by a space domain officer, instead of an aviator, and the first to involve an F-35 Lightning II fighter. The three-weeks of intense joint operations is focused on multi-domain integration and is commanded by Col. DeAnna Burt, Red Flag 16-3 Air Expeditionary Wing commander and a space domain specialist. The Lightning II participating for the first time is an F-35B model from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the nation’s first operational F-35 unit. The exercise is administrated by the Air Force Warfare Center and executed through the 414th Combat Training Squadron. It will involve 115 aircraft from 25 US units testing ways to apply multi-domain operations to accomplish a tactical mission. “We want to force people out of their comfort zone. We’ll be pushing them to talk about kinetic and non-kinetic effects and how when they are synchronized [they can] achieve tactical success,” Burt said in an Air Force release.