One jet two jet red jet blue jet

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tiffany Del Oso
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 325th Fighter Wing is in the midst of hosting one of the Department of Defense’s largest air-to-air combat exercises, Checkered Flag 22-2. The objective of this large-scale training event is to integrate 4th- and 5th-generation airframes, pilots and crews into a battlespace where they must learn to adapt in order to dominate the airspace.

To best accomplish this goal, pilots are split up into two teams: blue air and red air. Blue air represents the good guys; those with an objective to defend. Red air represents the enemy and those trying to penetrate blue air’s defenses.

During the 14-day exercise, blue air training and support is the priority to ensure proper tactics are adapted by pilots to be successful in a real-world event. To reach that goal, red air has to pose as adversary opponents.

“Our job as red air is to support blue air by giving them challenging, but realistic tactics, simulating what the enemy might present,” said Lt. Col. Brian Joseph, 301st Fighter Squadron red air mentor.

White force members act as neutral oversight and help to develop effective training scenarios for both red and blue air players. Operation planning includes the coordination of more than 100 aircraft participating from Tyndall and surrounding installations. The 325th Operations Support Squadron gathers intelligence and utilizes it to create the most accurate adversary air tactics possible for the blue air players to defend against.

“Checkered Flag is an air dominance exercise,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Diedrich, 149th Fighter Squadron white force member. “It provides an opportunity for the blue air to participate in realistic threat training and maintain Immediate Response Force readiness.”

The U.S. Army and Air Force jointly maintain the IRF, a rapid response force capable of deploying worldwide within 18 hours of notification. Large-force exercises like Checkered Flag provide the opportunity for pilots and ground crews to simulate and train for situations they might encounter when faced with an IRF tasking.

“[Checkered Flag] allows us to bring in [Air Force] units from across the country, in addition to other assets, like the Navy, to practice dissimilar and joint force training,” stated Joseph. “Dissimilar training is extremely important because being able to fly with other airframes and other branches both on the red and blue air side allows us to practice how we would integrate our forces and actually go to war.”

The 22-2 iteration of Checkered Flag includes but is not limited to the F-22 Raptor, F-15EX Eagle II, F/A-18 Super Hornet, KC-135 Stratotanker and the E-2 Hawkeye for a total of more than 100 participating aircraft. Approximately 1,300 personnel arrived at Tyndall to support this mission of training to project unrivaled combat airpower.

Participating in large-force exercises like Checkered Flag is one step closer to delivering decisive combat airpower to combatant commanders worldwide and maintaining total air dominance across the globe.