Norwegian F-35 aircraft take part in Red-Flag exercise

For the first time in history, Norwegian F-35 aircraft are used in exercise "Red-Flag" at Nellis Airforce Base in Nevada.

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Norwegian F 35 aircraft take part in Red Fag exercise Norwegian F-35 aircraft (Picture source: Royal Norwegian Air Force)

Four Norwegian F-35 aircraft, Norwegian pilots and associated Norwegian technicians participate in one of the world's largest air exercises. "Red-Flag" is a two-week "Advanced Aerial Combat Training Exercise" conducted by the US Air Force.

The Norwegian aircraft, pilots and technicians are part of the 62 Fighter Squadron, which trains Norwegian, Italian and American F-35 pilots on a daily basis. The squadron is stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

About 2,500 people from different countries participate in the exercise. The United States, Singapore, Sweden, and seven other NATO countries are represented.

One of the Norwegian "B-course students" (B-course is type check on F-35 and tactical qualification) has almost finished a 9-month training course to be certified as an F-35 pilot. He says that being able to participate in the Red Flag has been very good, and that the exercise has provided invaluable experience. No other arena provides this type of training and experience.

"The complexity and tactical challenge you face under Red Flag is not exposed to anywhere else in peacetime", says the pilot

The head of the Norwegian department at the base and Senior National Representative (SNR), Lieutenant Colonel Christoffer "Ivo" Eriksen, is very pleased with the dividend and implementation.

"The exercise has had great value for both participants and for the Air Force as a whole. It also sends clear signals about the important partnership between the nations in the F-35 program, where we stand together to deliver air power in the right place, at the right time, with the right effect", says Eriksen.

He further says that being able to send home newly trained pilots who have already been through such advanced exercises as Red-Flag, is a bonus that will benefit the Air Force in the future.

Red-Flag was first conducted in 1975. The goal of the exercise is to provide realistic Air Combat Training for military pilots and crew members from the United States and other allied countries. The exercise will give pilots their first "combat sorties" before they actually fly in war.

"Participation in Red Flag is something that will also be a priority in the years to come, in order to train the best possible F-35 pilots for the Air Force", Eriksen concludes.