Shake, rattle and…boom? 2nd round of Red Flag combat training exercises underway at Nellis Air Force Base

An military aircraft flies overhead at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Jan. 28, 2019 | File photo courtesy of Don Schoemer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A second round of high-tech military training is underway at Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada, bringing the possibility for loud booms and rattles as aircraft fly overhead.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Free checks the metal structure of a B-1 Lancer prior to a Red Flag training sortie at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March, 10, 2016 | File photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force, St. George News

The Red Flag exercises began Saturday and will continue daily until March 22. More than 80 aircraft from the U.S. and various partner nations are scheduled to depart Nellis twice a day and may remain in the air for up to five hours. Nighttime launches are also part of the training regimen.

These training operations can often affect Southern Utah residents. During the last round of exercises completed in mid-February, St. George News received multiple emails from homeowners who say they heard and felt rattling as aircraft passed over their houses, particularly in Ivins and the SunRiver area of St. George.

According to a news release issued by Nellis, Red Flag operations provide advanced, relevant and realistic combat-like situations to increase lethality and survivability in actual combat operations.

The exercises are held north of Las Vegas in the Nevada Test and Training Range. The news release states that the test range is a critical national asset that supports the entire Department of Defense, other federal agencies and coalition partners.

Four F-22 Raptors sit on the flightline in preparation for Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 7, 2017 | File photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force, St. George News

“The NTTR is the preeminent range for the testing and evaluation of weapons systems, tactics development and advanced combat training for constantly-evolving, near peer threats,” the news release reads.

Mission training exercises can include air interdiction, combat search and rescue, close air support, dynamic targeting and defensive counter air.

Trainees also attack simulated targets in the test range, such as mock airfields, vehicle convoys, tanks, parked aircraft, bunkered defensive positions and missile sites. These targets are defended by a variety of simulated ground and air threats.

A wide variety of aircraft are typically employed during the exercises, including bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, air superiority aircraft, airlift support, search and rescue aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft.

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