Avengers Assemble: Marine Corps, Air Force F-35s Come Together for Ground-Breaking Exercise
Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 “Wake Island Avengers,” 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, began participating in Red Flag 17-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 10.
During the exercise, which will continue until July 28, VMFA-211 will conduct a variety of mission sets alongside the other services: defensive counter air (DCA); offensive counter air (OCA); suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD); destruction of enemy air defense; dynamic taskings, which involve finding a time-sensitive target or series of targets and eliminating them; electronic warfare (EW); preplanned strikes; and combat search and rescue (CSAR).
“Red Flag 17-3 is designed to be a venue for U.S. forces to integrate on a scale that’s not possible anywhere else -- so Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army assets come from all over the United States and participate in advanced mission sets together,” said Maj. Paul Holst, VMFA-211’s executive officer. “It’s ... important to practice integrating assets from all across the [Armed Forces’] inventory because if we go to conflict, we don’t want that to be the first time we all integrate with each other.”
Red Flag is the U.S. Air Force’s premier realistic combat training exercise involving the air, ground, space and cyber forces of the United States -- sometimes including assets from allied nations. This iteration includes only the U.S. Armed Forces and will focus on improving individual performance as well as interoperability between the services.
According to Holst, this is the first time the F-35A Lightning II, used by the Air Force, and F-35B Lightning II, the short-takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) variant used by the Marine Corps, will participate in the same exercise as well as the Avenger’s first time attending Red Flag.