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.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel