Red Flag 20-2: Tornado IDS returning to Büchel

The second Red Flag this year took place from 09. to 20.03.2020 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The German Air Force participated in this major exercise with the weapon systems Eurofighter (TaktLwG 31) and Tornado (TaktLwG 33 and 51). The squadron from Büchel took the lead of the German command.

The jets participated in Offensive Counter Air (OCA) missions as part of the Blue Force. The aim of OCA is the suppression of the enemy air forces, Red Air or aggressors, mainly on ground with the destruction of so-called high-value targets. The Eurofighter Typhoons were armed with 1,000 pound GBU-48s, the Panavia Tornado were armed with 2,000 pound GBU-24s.

The aircraft Panavia Tornado ECR is specialized in the role of Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) and can reconnaissance and survey enemy radar positions by means of passive detection and destroy them with AGM-88 HARM missiles or temporarily jam them. The role of Close Air Support (CAS) was also trained. With the nearby Nevada Test and Training Range, Nellis Air Force Base offers optimal conditions for these missions. In addition, the 64th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) is an integral part of every Red Flag and replicates threats as realistically as possible.

Eight Eurofighter Typhoon and eight Panavia Tornado were transferred to the USA for this exercise. The following aircraft are involved:

TaktLwG 31 “Boelcke” (Included are aircraft provided by other squadrons for the exercise)

Eurofighter Typhoon EF2000 single-seater (GS)

30+52, 30+53, 30+80, 31+24, 31+32, 31+37, 31+40, 30+42

TaktLwG 33

Panavia Tornado PA200 IDS

44+33, 44+58, 44+70, 45+88, 46+15

TaktLwG 51 “Immelmann”

Panavia Tornado PA200 ECR

46+36, 46+38, 46+54

The relocation back to Germany took place on 25.03.2020. Two KC-10A of the United States Air Force (USAF) were used for the Eurofighters (BLUE81 and BLUE91). The Tornadoes of TaktLwG 51 also used a KC-10A (BLUE11). The fighter-bombers from Büchel had three KC-135 (BLUE47 to BLUE49) at their disposal. All tankers accompanied the aircraft from Bangor (KBGR) into British airspace and landed in RAF Mildenhall. Some back background informations on this can be found at Fightercontrol message board.

The five Tornado IDS returned to Büchel at about 18:00 local time. A special feature here is the configuration with four additional droptanks, two under the wings and two under the fuselage. During normal operation only the underwing tanks are used.

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