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214th Attack Group Makes First Appearance in Red Flag Rescue

Tech. Sgt. James O'Neil, 214th Attack Group crew chief, completes the pre-flight inspection on an MQ-9 Reaper

Tech. Sgt. James O'Neil, 214th Attack Group crew chief, completes the pre-flight inspection on an MQ-9 Reaper during Red Flag Rescue 21-1, May 13, 2021, Ft. Huachuca, Ariz. Red Flag Rescue 21-1 is the first iteration of the exercise to include MQ-9 participation.

Staff Sgt. Jason Ayala, 214th Attack Group Avionics, performs a pre-flight software load onto an MQ-9 Reaper

Staff Sgt. Jason Ayala, 214th Attack Group Avionics, performs a pre-flight software load onto an MQ-9 Reaper during Red Flag Rescue 21-1, May 13, 2021, Ft. Huachuca, Ariz. Red Flag Rescue 21-1 is the first iteration of the exercise to include MQ-9 participation.

Fort Huachuca, Ariz. --

The 214th Attack Group’s MQ-9 Reapers made their first appearance in the fourth annual Red Flag Rescue at Playas Training Center, New Mexico, May 11, 2021.

Red Flag Rescue is the Department of Defense’s premier multi-national and multi-service combat search and rescue training exercise. The exercise allows military units from across the world to integrate into a multi-week event which develops the fundamentals of planning and executing complex combat search and rescue events.

“Through a herculean amount of effort on the part of the Red Flag Rescue team, as well as members of the 214th ATKG, we were finally able to participate by supplying an aircraft for the exercise this year,” said Tech Sgt. Aaron Phillips, a 214th Attack Squadron flight chief, 162nd Wing, Arizona Air National Guard. “This year presented an exciting opportunity for the 214th ATKG as it was the first time an MQ-9 aircraft has ever participated in Red Flag Rescue.”

The 214th ATKG provided the aircraft for the exercise but coordinated with aircrew from other units to pilot the MQ-9 remotely in what is called remote split operations.

We are launching one of the Reapers to be flown by the Ohio Air National Guard who will fly a sortie before handing it over to the 50th Attack Squadron at Shaw AFB, said Phillips. Once the mission is complete, we will then recover the aircraft at Libby Airfield in Fort Huachuca.

Participating in Red Flag Rescue gave the team from the 214th ATKG an opportunity to hone their readiness skills.

“Providing these capabilities in a state-side training exercise ensures that our aircrews are prepared to execute combat search and rescue during their ongoing combat missions and helps educate partner forces on our capabilities ensuring efficient usage of assets in real-life combat search and rescue events,” said Phillips. “The culmination of these effects is faster and more effective combat search and rescue availability to the war fighters overseas right now.”

This year’s Red Flag Rescue exercise contained the largest number of participating flying units, and the largest number of international military units to include 15 different types of aircraft, 500 personnel, 33 units and six partner nations.

“Overall the exercise was a success and a big step forward in our ability to integrate with the 355th Wing's assets for further training,” said Tech Sgt. Phillips.