It’s that time a year again! Air Mobility Command’s airlifters have hit the skies en masse under the cover of night to fly across the U.S. and into the vast military training ranges in the American Southwest. The goal is to simulate prying open the enemy’s back door and setting up combat shop on their lawn as part of an annual drill called Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JFEX).
Our plane tracking friends started catching the peculiar streams of Air Force cargo aircraft popping up on their flight tracking software earlier in the evening. Within a short amount of time, it was clear that a major exercise was underway and the timing is perfect for this iteration of JFEX.
At this same time last year, social media was flooded with videos of lights filling up the night sky as strings of C-17s and C-130s crossed the U.S. on their way primarily to the Nellis Test and Training Range (NTTR) in desolate Southern Nevada. This unique large force employment exercise (LFE) is among the most complex drills the USAF executes and it combines assets of all types, including fighters, surveillance aircraft, electronic warfare platforms, and throngs of ground troops and equipment that are dropped into or dropped off in simulated enemy territory.