F-35B fighters over Twentynine Palms
Marine Corps F-35B jets over Twentynine Palms. USMC photo

Marine pilots flying new F-35B stealth fighters took top honors during this month’s Red Flag exercise, which is considered the world’s largest aerial war game.

Fighter Attack Squadron 211, part of the Miramar-based 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, was recognized as the outstanding unit during the exercise over the southern Nevada desert between Aug. 3 and Aug. 15.

The Yuma-based unit flies the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version of the fifth-generation stealth fighter, which is designed for use from the Navy’s amphibious assault ships. It first flew at Red Flag in 2016.

The new plane is designed around sophisticated radar and computers so that pilots can simultaneously engage multiple threats while using stealth technology to avoid detection.

“‘Outstanding Unit’ is a huge achievement that was accomplished through the efforts of our maintainers, our intel, and all of our supporting elements,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Freshour, commanding officer of the squadron. “This exercise really gave us the opportunity to see where we stand as a squadron, and highlights our ability to work as a team.”

The latest Red Flag exercise offered more than 1,900 possible targets, realistic air-to-air training, surface-to-air training, and the opportunity for continuous day and night operations, which helps Air Force, Navy and Marine squadrons prepare to deploy, fight and win.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.