‘All done in the air’: Inside Red Flag training at Nellis

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The roar relation watched the combatant pitchy hover beneath his Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.

With precision, Airman 1st Class Jonathon Covey lowered the roar carrying the substance tank. He steadied his power instrumentality arsenic an F-16’s achromatic process lights blinked.

He radioed to the skipper successful beforehand and pushed down connected the roar scope to merchandise the substance to the combatant pitchy successful mid-flight.

“We tin springiness them their state adjacent to wherever they’re fighting,” helium said. “They tin get it each done successful the air.”

Covey’s formation was portion of a combat grooming workout during Red Flag, which is hosted 3 times a twelvemonth astatine Nellis Air Force Base.

Red Flag simulates combat situations successful a controlled environment. The extremity is to summation the military’s quality to win successful combat and instrumentality location safely.

The different 2 Red Flag exercises this twelvemonth progressive NATO members, but Red Flag 21-3 includes lone the United States. It started July 19 and lasts done Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Stratotanker carried 2 pilots and 2 roar operators. It flew successful circles 20,000 feet supra the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The roar operators transferred substance to 7 jets implicit fluffy clouds and dusty skies Wednesday.

They run their machinery from the backmost of the plane, lying connected a pallet connected their tummy successful what’s called the “boom pod.”

To combat nausea portion successful flight, roar relation Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee chewed connected mint gum. He and Covey service successful the 350th Air Refueling Squadron, known arsenic the Red Falcons. They flew to Nevada connected the Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base successful Wichita, Kansas.

The 2 men some person mustaches and wore greenish jumpsuits. Their 2 pilots, Capt. Chase Cooper and Capt. Jessica Rothmeier, were successful afloat uniform.

The somesthesia successful Las Vegas reached 111 degrees Wednesday. In the cockpit, fans blew arsenic to support the circuit breakers successful the 1962 craft from overheating.

The Stratotanker is simply a level that 26-year-old Covey’s gramps utilized to basal defender for, helium said.

“This occupation ne'er gets boring. I perfectly emotion it,” Covey said. “It’s hard to picture the archetypal clip you unfastened up the sliding doorway and spot the crushed connected your archetypal flight.”

In flight, the pilots tracked astatine 245 knots — oregon 281 mph — arsenic their coordinates popped connected the screen.

Seven F-16s received substance connected Wednesday. At 1 point, determination was turbulence and the receiving pitchy had backmost out. But the pitchy brought it backmost in, and the ngo was capable to beryllium completed.

“I don’t person a precise large people to hit, truthful erstwhile it starts bouncing, it’s difficult,” Covey said.

Cooper, the main aviator connected the flight, said helium was experiencing his archetypal Red Flag. For him, it was bully to conscionable immoderate of the pilots successful person.

“It benignant of humanizes them, alternatively of them being a lawsuit oregon different F-16 pilot,” helium said. “They cognize we enactment them. We person to beryllium determination to support them successful the aerial for arsenic agelong arsenic they need.”

And connected Saturday, Cooper volition alert the Stratotanker again. This time, a spot farther, to his location basal successful Kansas.

Contact Briana Erickson astatine berickson@reviewjournal.com oregon 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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