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June 1, 2021

US DoD’s air-to-air exercise Checkered Flag concludes at Tyndall AFB

Checkered Flag aerial exercise is designed to allow fourth and fifth-generation aircraft platforms to train together.

The US Department of Defense’s air-to-air exercise ‘Checkered Flag’ has concluded at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US.

The two-week-long exercise includes the integration of fourth and fifth-generation air assets and offers an opportunity for aviators and maintainers to improve their mobility, deployment, and employment capabilities.

During the exercise, players in Checkered Flag flew a joint 882 sorties, with 692 of them originating out of Tyndall AFB.

Furthermore, 54 missiles were fired under the 53rd Wing’s Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) with the participation of more than 100 first-time shooters.

Air Combat Command (ACC) Exercise Branch Checkered Flag director lieutenant colonel Orsua said: “Checkered Flag is focused on air dominance execution.

“We train on defensive counter air (DCA) conflicts, which (simulate) our forces getting attacked, so (we practice) how we would posture our forces to defend those assets.”

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The exercise started on 10 May and focused on the integration of US Air Force and US Navy fleets, including fighter, tanker, electronic warfare (EW), and command and control (C2) aircraft.

More than 115 aircraft and 15 joint squadrons across the US participated in the exercise, with 71 of those aircraft and 2,000 workforces operating out of Tyndall AFB.

Orsua added: “We have multiple F-22s (and) Strike Eagles and those aircraft would be expected to fight together in real world DCA conflicts, but they don’t train together frequently. Checkered Flag allows these units to (perfect) fighter integration across these platforms.”

The exercise saw the use of the existing rebuild of Tyndall AFB. It provided on-station members with a chance ‘to learn from logistical challenges they may face downrange’.

ACC Exercise Branch Checkered Flag maintenance director master sergeant Scottie Mitchell said: “These units are working in a deployed environment, just by default of Hurricane Michael.

“Facility space was a challenge as Tyndall is in full rebuild mode. The question was, ‘How do they operate at a high-level with minimum facilities and minimum equipment?’ It was about finding solutions to problems without letting it affect the mission.”

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