Don’t panic, it’s just a drill; Red Flag combat exercises underway at Nellis Air Force Base

An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath lands at Nellis Air Force Base for Red Flag 19-3, date not specified | U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julian W. Kemper, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Residents in Southern Utah and Nevada may notice an increase in military aircraft activity through Aug. 2 as the Nellis Air Force Base begins Red Flag 19-3, one of the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat training exercises.

In this 2016 file photo, Staff Sgt. Joshua Free, a dedicated crew chief assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., checks the metal structure of a B-1 Lancer prior to a Red Flag 16-2 night training sortie March, 10, 2016, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada | Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force, St. George News

According to a press release from Nellis, Red Flag exercises, which started Monday, provide mission commanders; maintenance personnel; ground controllers; and air, space and cyber operators the opportunity to experience realistic combat scenarios to prepare for future warfare.

The goal of Red Flag 19-3 is to prioritize “first timers” combat missions, mission commander upgrades and flag unique experiences for all participants.

“Red Flag began as an air-to-air fight, but it’s evolved into a multi-domain conflict to make sure America’s warfighters from across the services are ready for tomorrow’s fight,” Col. Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, said in the press release. “Air, Space, Cyber and Command and Control forces come together in our training environment here at Nellis to ensure that when our nation calls, we can meet and beat our adversaries.”

This iteration of Red Flag includes participants from various services, including the Royal Australian Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines.

Linking participants through teamwork-enforced activities provides a more adaptable force. Red Flag ensures combat air forces are ready to win the nation’s wars and builds partnerships and interoperability among allies and across multiple domains, the press release stated.

Since its establishment in 1975, Red Flag has provided training for over 506,000 military personnel, including members of approximately 29 allied countries’ air forces, through various exercise scenarios over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range.

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