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Swamp Fox Airmen prepare at RED FLAG

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson
  • 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs
More than 150 Swamp Fox Airmen and nearly a dozen F-16 fighter jets from the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Fighter Wing, have deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada to prepare for an aviation Theater Security Package deployment this summer.

This type of training is necessary in order for any unit to achieve the four "R's" of being ready, resilient, relevant and responsible. Consisting of three weeks of intense training, RED FLAG-Nellis is the tool used to provide Airmen crucial combat training.

"RED FLAG was developed to simulate war," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark Fattmann, deployment project officer and F-16 fighter pilot with the 157th Fighter Squadron.

Waiting for the first combat flight in a real contingency is not the time to train a pilot for maximum potential, said Fattmann.

The objective of RED FLAG is to maximize combat readiness and survivability. RED FLAG is a peacetime training battlefield for pilots to train and prepare to fight the real fight.

Fattmann said there are only a handful of Swamp Fox pilots, who have never flown in combat, participating in this RED FLAG, so it will be a good first experience for them to fly in this kind of environment.

Swamp Fox maintainers and pilots are working long days to ensure their jets get airborne to meet each day's mission. Every F-16 launch for a sortie happens after a full day of mission planning and ends with hours of debriefing.

"Our squadron will be providing primarily SEAD [Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses] support," said Fattmann.

Flying with a variety of other aircraft, allies and acting enemies, Swamp Fox F-16's will protect the skies and work in unison as they destroy the simulated enemy integrated air defenses.

"Its good training, normal day-to-day ops here. We always train in-house with just F-16s. It's always good to go train with other aircraft and bring their capabilities into the mix," said Fattmann.

RED FLAG-Nellis is conducted on the Nevada Test and Training Range. Swamp Fox pilots will fly and train alongside allies and aircraft from around the country and the world.

"That's the beauty of RED FLAG, bringing everyone together and being able to train how we're actually going to fight, using the capabilities that we have with all the aircraft, versus just one unit," said Fattmann.