Minot Airmen and B-52s kick-off Red Flag 22-1

  • Published
  • By 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

Airmen and B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., participate in exercise Red Flag 22-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., which began Jan. 24, 2022.

Led by the 414th Combat Training Squadron and held three times each year, aircrews of various backgrounds participate in exercise Red Flag, building experience through multiple, intensive air-combat sorties, all while in the safety of a controlled training environment. The exercise lasts three weeks, with at least two Stratofortresses taking off twice per day.

“When you think about bombers, you think about dropping bombs onto the ground,” said Senior Master Sgt. Carlton, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Production superintendent. “Red Flag is very unique because it’s more of an air-to-air scenario, which you wouldn’t think bombers would have a large part to play in.”

Carlton went on to emphasize the evolution of Red Flag over the years resulted in the current holistic and multi-platform format.

The Airmen from the 23rd Bomb Squadron, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron remain vital to Department of Defense’s mission readiness and success, ensuring the B-52’s long-range strike bolster’s the demands of Red Flag.

 “There’s a lot of pressure on [the crew chiefs] to make sure we’re providing good, airworthy, combat-capable jets,” said Carlton. “The fighter units pave that road for us, then our bombers fulfill what theyre supposed to do and safely get through to where they’re going to drop bombs on target”

The controlled pressure and fast pace environment creates valuable opportunities for Airmen to test and evaluate skills which enable continuous process improvement to out think, out maneuver and out innovate adversarial threats.

“Red Flag is always a unique and valuable experience where the Air Force gets a chance to operate, not only together, but in the airspace with the most robust training infrastructure the DoD can throw at a live-fly event,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Wheeler, 23rd Bomb Squadron Director of Operations.

Training alongside other platforms across the joint force and partner nations enhances interoperability to strengthen strategic bomber capabilities when combined with those within the joint force.

 “It gives us a chance to practice and assess our tactics, understand each other’s most current capabilities, provide experience-backed data to help define platform upgrade requirements, and propel our young aviators forward in their experience and ability to address America’s pacing threats,” said Wheeler.

In addition to the B-52s from Minot, B-2 Spirits and personnel assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo. also represented the nation’s bomber fleet at this iteration of Red Flag.

Both units are assigned to the U.S. Air Force major command, Air Force Global Strike Command.