Red Flag 23-2 (USA)

From 13th to 24th March 2023, the second session of the 2023 exercise of the RED FLAG (23-2) was held at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada (United States).

RED FLAG is a combat simulation established at Nellis AFB, Nevada in 1975 to provide the highest level of realism possible in a high-threat environment during peacetime. The exercise was born out of poor crew  performance during the Vietnam War, where it was believed that 90% of combat aircraft losses occurred due to many pilot errors in combat, almost always within the first ten missions. of combat and lack of training in squadron combat and close combat.


Since November 29th 1975, therefore, all four US military air forces, components of the National Guard, the Reserve and the NATO air forces participate each year in the RED FLAG. Since 1975, more than 28 countries have joined the United States in these exercises which since 1991 have also been open to air forces outside the Atlantic pact. Many countries also participated as observers.

Nellis AFB – photo: Rino Montagna

Each year, three to six Red Flag exercises are held at Nellis Air Force Base while up to four more, dubbed Red Flag-Alaska, are held at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska (USA).

RED FLAGs are complex combat exercises, taking place north of Las Vegas at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), the USAF’s premier training area featuring nearly 5,000 square miles of airspace restricted to traffic overflights civilian aircraft and another 7,000 square miles of military operating area.

With 1,200 possible targets and an opposing “Red Force” the enemy forces, have a realistic arena for operational testing and crew training, to improve combat readiness in an area that allows to train jointly, in planning and in carrying out a wide range of combat missions with possibility of employing a wide variety of ammunition even live.

Every day, twice a day, from Nellis during RED FLAG 23-2 it was possible to observe the take-off of over 70 aircraft for missions involving up to 5 hours of flight.

Israel Air Force

RED FLAG 23-2 also saw the participation of Israel Air Force (IAF), for the first time with 7 of its Lockheed Martin F35I “Adir” of 140th “Golden Eagle” Squadron from Nevatim Israeli Air Force Base in the Blue Team Air role with the support of 3 Boeing 707-3L6C “Re’em” for in-flight refuelling.


The Israeli army (IDF) had declared the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of its F-35i in May 2018 and has already used them in real missions on two different occasions. Israel was the first nation to use F-35s in an actual war scenario. The IAF F35Is and Boeing 707s arrived in Nellis on Wednesday 8th March after a long flight with stops at Moron Air Base in Spain and Bangor ANGB in Maine (USA).

Among others, the USAF B-1B bombers of the 34th and 37th Squadron of Ellisworth AFB and US Navy F/A-18C of VMFA-232 of MCAS Miramar (USA) took part in interdiction missions in the RED FLAG 23-2. The VAQ-132 “Scorpions” Boeing EA-18G Growlers based at NAS Whidbey Island were also present in Nellis for the electronic attack missions.

In the role of in-flight refuelling, in addition to the Israeli Boeing 707s, there was also a Boeing KC-46 Pegasus of the 22nd Air Refuelling Wing (22nd ARW) from McConnell AFB in Kansas (USA).

As usual, in the role of Red Team the General Dynamics F-16C/CM of the 64th Aggressor Squadron (64th AGRS) and Lockheed Martin F-35A of the 65th Aggressor Squadron (65th AGRS) Nellis AFB

Close Air Support (CAS)


For Close Air Support (CAS), the USAF has deployed some Republic A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Nellis’ 66th Weapons Squadron and the 442d Fighter Wing from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri (USA) with live munitions. The 442d Fighter Wing trains reserve to operate, maintain and support the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II at combat readiness. Also in flight were the A-10Cs of the 107th Fighter Squadron “Red Devils” of Michigan Air National Guard from Selfridge Air National Guard Base (Michigan – USA) and the General Dynamics F-16C/Ds of 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard from Atlantic City Air National Guard Base.

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat subsonic attack aircraft developed by Fairchild Republic for the United States Air Force (USAF) and in service since 1976.

Exercise RED Flag, the most complete and realistic combat simulation that pits the best crews of the Atlantic pact and many other countries in the world, refining their skills for the defense of the population.

From Nellis AFB (USA): Rino Montagna, Mara Angelosante and Stefano Tempestini.

Aircrafts present at Red Flag 2023:


Gallery (Rino Montagna, Mara Angelosante & Stefano Tempestini):


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