Paul Dunn's 2010 blogGAR Entries

JUL 21 2010
Another side of Nellis AFB

With a desert location in the suburbs of Las Vegas, Nellis AFB boasts year round superb weather and has access to one of the most extensive and advanced range complexes on the planet. Several times a year, the Nellis based USAF Warfare Center hosts the multi-national Red Flag exercise.

Also falling under the control of the Warfare Center is the 57th Wg, one of the main units operating from Nellis AFB. Forming a large part of the 57th Wg flying activities is the USAF Weapons School, which provides advanced level instruction in weapons and tactics to Air Force crews. Graduates of the course go on to become weapons instructors themselves.

Many of the courses are taught at locations away from Nellis, for example, the B-1B course is taught by the 77th Weapons Squadron (WPS) at Dyess AFB. However, units and aircraft based at Nellis include the 16th WPS (F-16); 17th WPS (F-15E), 66th WPS (A-10) and 433rd WPS (F-15/F-22). These squadrons are very active, with most of their flying taking place outside of the main Red Flag launch/recovery phases.

Not part of the 57th Wg, but forming a substantial part of the activity at Nellis is the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron. The 422nd TES is actually part of the 53rd Wg at Eglin AFB and is responsible for operational test of new systems, weapons and tactics, hence the ‘OT’ tailcode. The unit operates examples of the A-10, F-15C, F-15E, F-16 and F-22.

Probably the best known part of the 57th Wg is the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as The Thunderbirds. We were lucky enough to see a pair of aircraft departing for a weekend show.

After the Thunderbirds, perhaps the most visible part of the 57th Wg are the aggressor squadrons of F-15s (65th Aggressor Squadron) and F-16s (64th AS). These aircraft perform the role of ‘bad guys’ for the Red Flag exercises, and utilise a variety of camouflage colour schemes to represent potential adversaries.

In addition to the based aircraft, Nellis has also recently been playing host to a Green Flag exercise. This exercise is run in conjunction with the US Army, and focuses on close air support and electronic warfare. Taking part in Green Flag at the same time as Red Flag 10-4 was running were F-16s from the 388th FW at Hill AFB, Utah, who also mainly flew outside of Red Flag mission times.

Finally, a couple of visitors – a USMC KC-130J made a brief stop during my visit, and a US Navy E-6 Hermes was also present.

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2010-08-04 - Derek Waters
Love the Hawgs Paul!

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