By Air Force Senior Airman Solomon Cook
/ Published November 09, 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.
“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.
“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.