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
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees