Beale Airmen provide higher perspective at Red Flag 16-3

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California --

After three weeks of desert heat and simulated combat training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the U-2 Dragon Lady has returned to Beale Air Force Base, California.

Approximately 68 members of Team Beale deployed to Red Flag to support the exercise. Personnel such as crew chiefs, avionic specialists, aircraft engineers, fabrication specialists, pilots, mission planners and life support technicians were on station to prepare and maintain the U-2’s mission at Nellis.

“Red Flag was very similar to a real world deployment,” said Master Sgt. Amanda Cox, 99th Aircraft Maintenance Unit section chief. “Everyone came together to accomplish the mission, whether it was inside your realm or not you figured out a way to help each other.”

Cox added that the heat and desert conditions gave the team a similar environment and challenges, which they are exposed to in deployed location.

Red Flag is a realistic combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies, is coordinated at Nellis and conducted on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range. It is one of a series of advanced training programs administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis and executed through the 414th Combat Training Squadron.

"Red Flag was a great opportunity for our Airmen," said Lt. Col. Michael Gilmore, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron commander. "Operating at Nellis AFB in Red Flag is yet another example of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing's all-in commitment to integrate with our Combat Air Force (CAF) partners and ultimately provide warfighters with the critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to defeat the enemy. The training, knowledge and relationships gained from this exercise are extremely valuable."

The U-2 supported the exercise by providing high-altitude, all-weather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to directly support U.S. and allied forces. Beale Airmen delivered 12 sorties capturing ISR data for those who were flying air to air and air to ground missions.

“Physically being at Red Flag kept our team deeply involved in the exercise, as before we would send a U-2 out from Beale and not be as plugged into the exercise,” said Maj. Travis Patterson, 9th RW Weapons and Tactics chief. “We were emerged in the mission and we were able to see and receive validation of how the ISR data we provided contributed to operations.”