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Red Flag offers B-52 crews training that 'can't be beat'

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., taxis for take off during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 15, 2015. The B-52 is a long-range heavy bomber capable of dropping or launching a wide variety of munitions on any target anywhere in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis)

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., taxis for take off during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 15, 2015. The B-52 is a long-range heavy bomber capable of dropping or launching a wide variety of munitions on any target anywhere in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis)

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., sits through pre-flight checks during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. July 15, 2015. The B-52 has a wide array of weapons at its disposal to dispose of an enemy and is capable of delivering approximately 70,000 pounds of munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler)

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., sits through pre-flight checks during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. July 15, 2015. The B-52 has a wide array of weapons at its disposal to dispose of an enemy and is capable of delivering approximately 70,000 pounds of munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- As the sun blazes through the cloudless sky, a suffocating heat touches down on the Nellis AFB flightline. A B-52 Stratosphere assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadron sits, awaiting pre-flight checks for its upcoming Red Flag mission.

Red Flag provides realistic air combat missions in a training environment which ensures participating air and ground crews are better prepared for future real-world operations.

The 69th BS is one of many units taking advantage of the training Red Flag 15-3 offers. 

"We got back from Guam last year and Red Flag was the next big thing on the docket, so we started focusing on that as early as possible," said Capt. Britt, 69th BS aircraft commander. "We wanted to focus on and show the (Combat Air Forces) what we could do so that when we got here our entire unit was on the same sheet of music, could perform as well as we could, and didn't' look like the slow ponies when we showed up."

The 69th BS brought four B-52 aircraft and approximately 180 Airmen to participate in Red Flag 15-3.

"We started talking about Red Flag about six months ago," said Britt. "However, I would say our real training program started three months ago, and we rolled through daily sorties and just the way we do our business as far as mission planning. We started simulating what we expected to have here at Red Flag and carried that through so there weren't any big surprises when we got here."

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions such as strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations.  

"I don't think it's an unfair analogy to say that Red Flag is like the Super Bowl if you will," said 1st Lt. Joseph "You plan for it, everybody else is getting ready for it in all separate places throughout the country and then all of a sudden, we all come together and integrate.

"We have this seminal moment where we are all learning together as a group," Joseph continued."You're rubbing shoulders and in the same building with all these same people that you've heard about throughout the year and you've trained to be able to integrate with, and now all of a sudden you're there and doing the mission."

In addition to bringing the B-52 to Red Flag, the 69th BS has had the chance to gain valuable knowledge and training experience through the combat exercises presented at Red Flag.

"I would say at the unit level there is no better training than this in the world," said Britt. "It's definitely one of those things where there are people that have been to Red Flag and there's people that haven't and you're level of training, your level of expertise and skill increases significantly while you're here. Having all these assets and all the opportunities here at the same time, you simply can't beat it. It's the biggest bang for your buck."

Editor's note: Last names have been withheld due to operational security constraints.