This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
If your GPS navigation system fails you on your road trip west this month, it isn’t you — or your Garmin. It’s probably the United States Air Force.
Between January 26 and February 16, the USAF will periodically block GPS over a wide swath of the Western states, on dates coinciding with Red Flag 18-1, the military’s “premier set of aerial war games.”
Exercise Red Flag is an advanced military training series that simulates real-time combat conditions for pilots and weapons systems officers. The USAF has hosted Red Flag every year since 1975. The exercise takes place in a series of multi-week sessions at Nellis Air Force Base just outside of Las Vegas.
GPS has become a crucial part of modern technology, and the blackout is designed to challenge air and weapons personnel to stay familiar with alternative navigational techniques under realistic fighting conditions.
This year’s exercise is the largest of its kind in Red Flag’s 42-year history, and besides the US Air Force includes airplanes and crews from trusted US allies Australia and the United Kingdom in addition to the United States Marine Corps.
“We’re trying a few new and different things with Red Flag 18-1,” said Col. Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “It’s the largest Red Flag ever with the largest number of participants, highlighting the balance of training efficiency with mission effectiveness.”
How will this exercise affect civilians? Flying Mag reports that the GPS blackout will extend to a number of states surrounding the Nevada-based air base, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico, possibly causing inconsistent GPS access for aircraft and ground vehicles alike.
Feature image by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis/United States Air Force
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards