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Aggressors arrive at Shaw

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destani K. Matheny
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 20th Fighter Wing hosted the 64th Aggressor Squadron out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to train pilots from the 55th Fighter Squadron on Red Flag tactics and techniques.

Red Flag is the U.S. Air Force’s leading air-to-air combat training exercise. Players at Red Flag regularly include both United States and allied nations’ combat forces. In the security of a training environment, the exercise provides an accurate experience of various high-intensity air combat sorties.

“The aggressors specialize in being red air (the offense),” said 1st Lt. Connor Colas 55th FS F-16 pilot. “It is helpful because we don’t have to send our jets out there to be red air, so we can focus on being blue air (the defense) here and on our defensive skills and tactics.”

The goal of Red Flag is to prepare our pilots to fight against peer-level adversaries in any combat environment.

Due to scheduling, some units are not able to send all their Airmen out to Red Flag. The 64th AGS, acting as a mobile training team and going on “roadshows”, allows realistic adversary training to happen more frequently and with more units.

Team Shaw last participated in a Red Flag in July 2019 at Nellis AFB.

“When we do go to Red Flag, we utilize the aggressors as much as possible,” said Maj. Tyler Sanders, 55th FS marine exchange pilots. “This was a unique opportunity because we were able to schedule the aggressor flights around our pre-standing training and in turn maximize what we got out of it.”

Sanders said although this training focused on air tactics, for them to complete their mission they need support from the ground.

“We increased our operational tempo not only for the pilots, but for our maintainers. Everyone involved got more training,” said Sanders.

The 55th FS worked with their Nellis brethren and built stronger in-unit comradery.

“As aggressors we specialize in learning about adversary tactics and systems,” said Capt. Paul Baker, 64th AGS F-16CJ Fighting Falcon pilot. “We’re trying to integrate our operations with their day-to-day training.”

Baker said the 64th AGS have flown with and provided academics to the 55th FS at Shaw along with F-15E Strike Eagle pilots from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, F-16 pilots from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, and F-15 pilots from the Florida Air National Guard.

One aspect of the teaching is long range air-to-air training and practicing intercepts. The aggressors enhanced a multitude of our pilots’ skills, one is of which defending against electronic attacks.

“Shaw has been a great host and the support we’ve gotten has been awesome,” said Baker. “The operational tempo and tactical proficiency here is right up against Nellis, one of the largest fighter squadrons in the Air Force. To be able to come in and see how Shaw operates is pretty eye opening.”