The US Air Force (USAF) has commenced an air-to-air combat joint training exercise, Red Flag 17-3, at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, US, to demonstrate capabilities of both F-35A Lightning II and F-35B fighter aircraft.

The exercise is the third iteration of Red Flag this year, which allows aircrew to conduct multiple, intensive air combat sorties in the safety of a training environment.

414th Combat Training Squadron commander lieutenant colonel Mark Sadler said: “For Red Flag, we bring in our joint warfighters with their capabilities and their equipment.

“We come together and fight as a team, and we get to learn from each other as we do that.”

The US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighter jets will participate alongside the USAF’s F-35A’s for the first time in Red Flag.

A variety of aircraft will take part in the exercise, including attack, fighter and bomber, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, airlift support, search-and-rescue, and aerial refuelling aircraft. Ground-based command and control, space and cyber forces will also be involved.

"We come together and fight as a team, and we get to learn from each other as we do that."

Participating aircraft will conduct combat training missions on the Nevada Test and Training Range, which is north of Las Vegas.

Sadler added: “We get to learn in a realistic training environment as we continue to progress down the road with this platform and other fifth-generation or fourth-generation aircraft.”

The three-week-long event, which will run until 28 July, will witness support from more than 2,500 joint troops.

Red Flag 17-4 is scheduled to be carried out between 14-25 August.

Image: Red Flag 17-3 is the first iteration to feature both the Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II and the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II. Photo: courtesy of Marine Corps/photo by sergeant Lillian Stephens.