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Ellsworth launches to Red Flag 17-1

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

The 37th Bomb Squadron launched five jets from here Jan. 20, 2017, to take part in Red Flag 17-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Aircrews and pilots from across the world will be working together in the joint exercise, testing their ability in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat from Jan. 23 to Feb. 10, 2017.

Along with troops from across the DoD, members of the British Royal Air Force, Australian Royal Air Force and NATO will be participating in the two-week exercise.

“Red Flag is a huge integration exercise,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Rowan, the assistant director of operations assigned to the 37th BS. “It allows us to bring in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities together and test them in realistic scenarios.”

The quarterly exercise is hosted north of Las Vegas on the Nevada Test and Training Range – a 2.9 million acre region with more than 15,000 square miles of airspace.

“Historically, NTTR has hosted Red Flag since the exercise’s creation,” Rowan said. “It’s a big chunk of air space that is able to accommodate Large Force Exercises like Red Flag.”

The NTTR has nearly 2,000 potential targets and an enemy force to create a simulated battlefield – providing pilots with the most realistic training possible. More than 80 aircraft will be taking off and landing twice a day.

“You don’t want an aviator’s first combat sortie to be in actual combat,” Rowan said. “By training them at Red Flag, they will be much more prepared.”