114th FW trains in Canada during Maple Flag 42

COLD LAKE, Alberta -- Aircraft and crews from the U.S Air Force are participating with a combined force in Canada as part of Maple Flag 42, providing pilots and crews with realistic air combat training. 

Phase two of the exercise started June 1 and runs through June 12. Sponsored by the Canadian Forces 4 Wing and held at Cold Lake, Maple Flag provides realistic air combat training for pilots, according to Canadian Forces Maj. Carl Cottrell, Maple Flag commander. 

"Maple Flag is similar to Red Flag in where we provide junior pilots with their first 10 sorties in a combat environment," he said. "We have also migrated to a more joint force to conduct operations with a large force deployment and support a joint component on the ground. It is representative of the modern battlefield." 

Participating in Maple Flag also gives U.S. units an extra dimension of training they couldn't get at Red Flag, said Col. Mike Meyers, U.S. Expeditionary Forces commander here. 

"It's a different scenario and a different place," the colonel, who is deployed from the South Dakota Air National Guard, said. "We deploy out of the country, so we get the whole expeditionary piece. Instead of working with our allies in the states, we work with them in their backyard." 

Participants in phase two of the exercise include units from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, the South Dakota Air National Guard, Tinker AFB, Okla., Nellis AFB, Nev., Canadian Forces, Singapore, Great Britain and the Netherlands. 

Working with different units and forces from other countries creates new training opportunities for pilots participating in the exercise, according to Capt. Jeremy Doohen, a South Dakota Air National Guard pilot with the 174th Fighter Squadron from Sioux Falls, S.D. 

"We're used to working with our unit, so we have to get used to working with other units and countries," Doohen said. "We're used to flying with only six of our own aircraft out there, here we are working with other groups. You really have to have situational awareness of what the other groups are doing - there is so much going on out there. 
We're also working with dissimilar aircraft - you don't know who the bad guys are until they are close. It's good training." 

Although phase two is still in the first few days, positive feedback was received from phase one participants, Cottrell said.  "The first phase was quite a success - we've received praise from the participants," he said. "Phase two is motoring along and the participants are getting good training." Phase one ran May 18-29. 

Maple Flag was developed in 1978 in response to the finding that most wartime aircraft losses occurred during an aircrew's first ten combat missions. The exercise provides junior aircrews with these critical first 10 missions, allowing them to train for large coalition operations in a structured academic environment.