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The 64th Aggressor Squadron; Nellis AFB, March 6 – 9, 2017

Exercise Red Flag 17-2, part 3; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The 64th Aggressor Squadron is a unit which is based at Nellis Air Force Base and is specialized in imitating and emulating enemy aircraft during exercises like Red Flag. The unit is currently equipped with the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon. The aircraft of this unit can be recognized by the various exotic color schemes.

The history of the 64th Aggressor Squadron starts in the Second World War. The squadron is then established as the 64th Pursuit Squadron and was equipped with the P-40 Warhawk. The unit would be assigned to the I Command as part of the Army Air Corps at Mitchel Field in New York. In July 1942, the unit would move to the Middle East when it was assigned to the IX Fighter Command in Egypt. The 64th PS would take part in the battle of El Alamein where the unit would escort the heavy bombers during their missions against the Germans. The unit would also participate in various diving bombardments in Tunisia in 1943. Later in 1943 the squadron would also participate in the conquest of Sicily. The squadron would support the British 8th Army here during the landing in Termoli. In 1994, the 64th PS would make the switch to the North American P-47 Thunderbolt. With this aircraft the unit would operate in the interdiction role. The 64th PS would move to Corsica to do bombings on the enemy railway lines and important communication posts. In June 1944, the squadron was actively involved in the invasion of southern France during the battle of Elba. Eventually, the 64th PS would fly its final missions during the Second World War in Italy during various support missions. After the Second World War, the unit remained in Italy until the end of the summer of 1945. Eventually the 64th PS was disbanded there in August 1945.

At the beginning of the Cold War, the 64th PS was re-established as the 64th Fighter Squadron in August 1946. The 64th FS entered service as part of the 11th Air Force that was part of the Alaskan Air Command. The new squadron would have to carry out the air defense mission of the northwest of the Pacific area. The 64th FS was equipped with the North American P-51 mustang for this task in 1947. The unit was stationed at Elmendorf AFB and from 1948 it was equipped with the F-80 Shooting Star. At Elmendorf AFB the 64th FS became part of the 10th Air Division. In the 1950s, the

squadron would also fly with the F-94 and the F-89 in the interceptor role. In 1957, the 64th FS would move to McChord AFB in Washington. At this airbase the squadron would fly with the F-102A Delta Dagger as part of the 25th Air Division. The unit would also be renamed as the 64th Fighter Interception Squadron (64th FIS). In 1966 the unit would play a role in the Vietnam War for the first time. The 64th FIS was relocated to Clark Air Base, where it would take the responsibility for the air defense of Luzon and the North of the Philippines as part of the Pacific Air Force. From Clark AB, the unit would also fly missions on rotation to South Vietnam from mostly Da Nang Air Base. The aircraft of the 64th FIS would fly air defense missions against a possible North Vietnamese air strike on the south. After a short deployment in South Korea, the squadron was finally disbanded in 1969 with the retirement of the F-102 Delta Dagger.

The 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron (64th FWS) was activated for the third time on October 15, 1972. Initially, the new squadron was equipped with the T-38 Talon. In April 1976 the unit was provided with the Northrop F-5E Tiger II. These aircraft were actually meant for the export to South Vietnam, but this deal was cancelled after the end of the Vietnam War. The F-5 soon turned out to have the characteristics of the Soviet MiG-21 "Fishbed" and therefore it quickly was used as an aggressor to emulate this type. The 64th FWS was also renamed as the 64th Tactical Fighter Aggressor Squadron (64th TFAS) on December 30, 1981. The Tigers of the 64th TFAS would not wear a tail code which was a standard within the USAF. The F-5 Tigers of the unit would fly in the colors of the MiG-21s of the Soviet Union. The last two digits of the American serial were painted as a Russian code on the body of the aircraft. The 64th Tactical Fighter Aggressor Squadron would often fly in Europe in the period from 1972 until 1990 to train the USAF units in air combat. On January 4, 1983, the 64th TFAS was renamed to its current name 64th Aggressor Squadron (64th AGRS). From 1987, the aircraft of the unit would receive the tail code WA. On April 1, 1988, the 64th AGRS would receive its first F-16s in the form of the F-16A Fighting Falcon. These aircraft were taken over from the 474th TFW on Nellis AFB. The F-16C/D Fighting Falcon was commissioned by the unit from 1989 onwards. On October 5, 1990, the squadron was deactivated and the task was taken over by the 4440th Tactical Fighter Training Group of the USAF Weapons School.

It would take until October 2003 when the 64th Aggressor Squadron would be re-established on Nellis AFB for the last time. The 64th AGRS then became part of the 57th Operations Group. The squadron would take over the F-16s from the 414th CTS after it was decided that this unit would take charge in the organization of Red Flag in 2005. The aggressors of the 64th AGRS would be deployed on exercises such as Red Flag and the exercises of the Canadian Forces such as Maple Flag. The squadron is also supporting the USAF Weapons School where they serve as opponents for the new UASF pilots. The F-16s flying at the squadron can be recognized by the exotic color schemes. The aircraft were painted in the different colors that are used by the modern Russian Air Force on types such as the MiG-29 "Fulcrum", the Su-27 "Flanker" and the Su-34 "Fullback". The purpose of these color schemes is to create a good plane recognition under the students of the Weapons School and the participants in the Red Flag exercises. The aggressors of the 64th AGRS emulate the characteristics of these Russian aircraft during the simulations and air defense exercises. This means that the pilots do not use the full features of the F-16, but that they fly typical maneuvers that belong to the various Russian types. Nowadays the name 57th Operations Group has been changed to 57th Adversary Tactics Group. The 64th AGRS plays nowadays an important role in the training of the pilots of the USAF.




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