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Airmen Participate in ‘Checkered Flag’ Exercise

By Air Force Senior Airman Sergio Gamboa 325th Fighter Wing

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TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Nov. 9, 2017 — “Checkered Flags” are large-scale, aerial exercises that combines fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft to enhance airmen capabilities, while providing training to rapidly respond to current, real-world conflicts and preparing for the future.

An airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, inspects an F-15 Eagle cockpit canopy prior to the arrival of its pilot on the flightline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
An airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, inspects an F-15 Eagle cockpit canopy prior to the arrival of its pilot on the flightline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 6, 2017. Airmen from Mountain Home and more than seven other Air Force installations start their days in the early morning hours to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the warfighting power of both fourth- and fifth- generation aircraft, and the concurrently running Weapon Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Solomon Cook
An airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, inspects an F-15 Eagle cockpit canopy prior to the arrival of its pilot on the flightline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Eagle Canopy
An airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, inspects an F-15 Eagle cockpit canopy prior to the arrival of its pilot on the flightline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 6, 2017. Airmen from Mountain Home and more than seven other Air Force installations start their days in the early morning hours to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the warfighting power of both fourth- and fifth- generation aircraft, and the concurrently running Weapon Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Solomon Cook

“Checkered Flag allows us work in an efficient manner in order to do training that we can’t do all the time,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Lee, 44th Fighter Group deputy commander and Checkered Flag 18-1 Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander here. “In particular, there is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft integration piece that is brought to Checkered Flag that is not available at any other Air Force exercise.

Raptors, Lightning IIs

“By that, I’m talking about F-22 [Raptors] operating with F-35 [Lightning IIs]. There is also a fourth- and fifth-generation integration where F-15 Eagles, F-18 Hornets, F-16 Fighting Falcons and other Air Force resources learn to operate with the unique capabilities that stealth aircraft bring into the mix,” Lee explained.

Lee said Tyndall is an ideal place for exercises such as Checkered Flag 18-1 for a host of reasons, one such being location.

“What we have in our Checkered Flag airspace is an over water range that affords us the opportunity to be fully supersonic down to the ground,” he said. “This is not a capability that we have on a large scale at any other ranges within the United States.”

Lee explained other unique aspects of the exercise.

Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, begin their day of work shortly after being dropped off on the flight line at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, begin their day of work shortly after being dropped off on the flight line at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 6, 2017. Airmen from more than eight bases across the United States were sent on a temporary duty assignment to Tyndall to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the warfighting power of both fourth- and fifth- generation aircraft, and the concurrently running Weapon Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Solomon Cook
Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, begin their day of work shortly after being dropped off on the flight line at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Flight Line Walk
Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, begin their day of work shortly after being dropped off on the flight line at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 6, 2017. Airmen from more than eight bases across the United States were sent on a temporary duty assignment to Tyndall to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the warfighting power of both fourth- and fifth- generation aircraft, and the concurrently running Weapon Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Solomon Cook

“We train to a peer-level adversary in a way that is not immediately available to us like in other large-scale exercises,” he said. “We will have F-22s and F-35s simulating adversaries for not just the current conflict, but future conflicts. That is training not available to us at any of the other exercises the Air Force has because resources are scarce when it comes to having F-22s and F-35s as adversaries.”

During the exercise, Tyndall will host the following units: 525th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; 131st Fighter Squadron, Barnes Municipal Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts; 393th Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; 79th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina; 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri; and 116th ACW, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

As the exercise intensifies, Tyndall and their partners will train and demonstrate the Air Force’s competencies of maintaining air superiority, both currently and in the future, which requires investment in technology and in the training on that technology.


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