Red Flag has always been a varsity exercise and in recent years, it has seen increased participation from allies and friends.  This year has been no exception with Brazil (F-5s), Sweden (JAS-39 Grippens), France (Rafales) and Turkey F-16s) among the many participants.  This was in addition to the usual USAF, USN and USMC participants.

Notable among the  invitees this year was the Indian Air Force whose marquee participants were the Sukhoi Su-30 Mk I (that’s “I” as in “Indian”) Flankers.  As expected, the Indian Flankers did not showcase their full capability, especially in the EW realm, for much the same reasons th US won’t in other venues with its most advanced aircraft.  Additionally, the Indians employ their Flankers in a different networked schema than the US that includes ground-based infrastructure not brought to Red Flag. Nevertheless, the IAF has apparently given a good accounting of itself,  to the extent the USAF has evidently asked them to be regular participants.  By most accounts, their participation has generally played well at home too.  Oh yes, there was another element of the Indian armed forces that made the trip, but to somewhat less public play too…

One other note – a not inconsiderable element to this was the fact that most of the candidate aircraft for India’s lucrative MRCA competition currently underway, were also participants in the exercise, availing the Indians a chance to assess operations with dissimilar aircraft.

As is usually the case with Red Flag, there is some compelling imagery for the sampling:

IAF Su-30 MkI Flankers at Red Flag

IAF Maintainers conduct post-flight checks.  Note the postions of the engine’s directional nozzles (USAF photo)

Flanker maintenance and flight preps

Keeping them flying is a ‘rond the clock operation, no matter the nationality (USAF photo)

More below the fold:

TAF F-16

Turkish F-16s were players (Turkish AF photo)

Fr AF Rafale

French AF Rafales (USAF photo)

RAF Tornados (USAF photo)


USN EA-6B (USAF photo)

Red Flag Aggressor Squadron

Red Flag Aggressor Squadron (USAF photo)

Fight's On (USAF photo)

Fight’s On (USAF photo)


IAF Flankers (Bharat Rakshak – Aero India)

Swedish JAS 39 Gripens – Red Flag 2008 from Rapier55 on Vimeo.

And finally a video form Indian TV, a video from the Flanker training squadron:


  1. Always good to invite someone you will have to fight someday to a Red Flag.

    Wonder if they still put folks up in contract hotels along the “old” strip?

  2. Excellent photography.

  3. Surfcaster

    Thought I read somewhere that the Raptors were absent Red Flag

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