Two MQ-9 Reapers and multiple aircrews from the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing participated in Red Flag 17-1 from January 23 to February 10, 2017, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. This was the first time the MQ-9 and F-35A Lightning II have integrated in a Red Flag.
“Specifically for this Red Flag our desire and objectives were to integrate in combat search and rescue missions,” said Captain Joseph, 42nd Attack Squadron pilot. “We wanted to demonstrate that we are a capable and feasible aircraft to provide on-scene command during a CSAR event.”
“The F-35, on the times we worked together, provided suppression of enemy air defence and coverage in order to execute our mission,” Joseph said. “They would take out any surface-toair missiles or air-to-air threats, protecting us [if needed].” During the exercise the MQ-9 and F-35 crews were learning about how to integrate with each other. “The biggest education point was how to communicate effectively to each other what our desires are and how to get the same results,” Jacob said.