Exercise RED FLAG is still run around the Nellis Range, and is one of the biggest military flying events in the world. Many NATO and Commonwealth nations participate, the largest contingents being the USAF, Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force.

Canada runs a similar event with the RCAF, RAF and USAF, called MAPLE FLAG. Australia and the UK run another called BLUE FLAG. The UK runs Exercises JMC (Joint Maritime Course), AIMING FIST, NEWTP (NATO Early Warning Training Programme), CLEAN HUNTER, and other exercises, usually participating with the US and European NATO Air Forces.

The aim of these exercises is to train military air- and ground-crew in preparation for war. Some of the specialisations from the Royal Air Force usually involved in RED FLAG are:

    Pilot (flying Tornado F3, E3D Sentry AWACS, Jaguar, Canberra, Hercules, C17 Galaxy and various helicopters
    Navigator (aka Weapons Systems Operator (WSO))
    Fighter Controller (weapons and surveillance)
    Engineer (aerosystems and computers)
    Air Traffic Controller
    RAF Regiment (provides point Air Defence)
    Flight Operations Officers
    RAF Police

....and so on. RED FLAG is widely considered to be the most effective exercise of its kind in the world, comprising tactical training and testing, radar jamming, live firing, air defence, and all of the different operational Air Power roles. The UK and US "rule the roost" as far as fighting is concerned, these two nations training together more than any other two air forces in the world.

RED FLAG requires huge logistical support and is planned for months. Fighting squadrons will often double their flying time in the month prior to deploying to RED FLAG in order to practice, and to develop an "edge" over their opponents. Pilots of other aircraft types, such as Hercules and C17 (Air Transport), E3D Sentry (Airborne Weapons and Control Systems (AWACS)) and Jaguar (low-level attack/reconnaissance) are also given a rare opportunity to pracice flying in "hostile" airspace. At the end of the exercise all participants undergo a rigorous set of debriefs in order to establish best practice, new tactics, and so on. Then all British personnel are free to pile into Las Vegas to spend their hard-earned Local Overseas Allowance!

And how do I know so much.... being a Fighter Controller (an Air Battle Manager to other nations), RED FLAG is viewed as the only exercise where we can truly work, under fire, in the field without actually going to war.