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Team Whiteman integrates with fifth-generation aircraft during RF 21-1, showcases forces’ power

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sadie Colbert
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Each year, many Wings and multitudes of aircraft flock to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for Red Flag, allowing various airframes to integrate with each other and further evolve their capabilities for future sorties.

“Exercises like Red Flag are critical because it ensures our youngest crew members are ready to go into any fight,” said Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, Air Expeditionary Wing and 509th Bomb Wing commander. “When Whiteman’s B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber flies on a day-to-day basis, we’re practicing our bomb runs, timing and command and control. However, in order to really know how well those components work together with other airframes in a fight, we have to bring people together and put the capabilities in the same space at the same time.”

During RF 21-1, B-2 pilots spent more than 100 hours training with fifth-generation aircraft to gain vital flying experience similar to executing sorties in a realistic contested and operationally limited environment.

“Integrating the fifth-generation aircraft abundantly multiplies our total experience gained during these training sorties,” said Lt. Col. Chris Conant, the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. “With fifth-gen airframes playing both friend and foe, we have different sets of capabilities to work with and against, and it makes each sortie a unique situation to learn from.”

The F-22 brings a combination of stealth, speed, agility, lethal long-range air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry deployment, the F-35 brings unprecedented situational awareness, information sharing and connectivity to the coalition during sorties, and the B-2 brings its’ low-observable, precision-strike capabilities. Red Flag 21-1 provides an opportunity to test those capabilities together in contingent-like scenarios.

“Red Flag has evolved a lot over the years, and it’s transformed into a complete joint exercise now that looks at all domains and how those different warfighters come together to execute a mission.” said Schreiner. “It shows our youngest aviators what near-peer adversaries look like.”

Schreiner added the true value in RF 21-1 is it’s a training environment and that he is really excited to see the opportunities for Team Whiteman to unify, learn and be prepared for any adversary they could be up against.

“The hope is that in 3 weeks, our team can walk out the door in feel confident that they can go into an expeditionary environment and fight together in order to get the mission accomplished,” Schreiner concluded.