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Omnimax show takes audiences on realistic combat training exercise

From tomorrow (April 1) until September 30, the Hong Kong Space Museum will stage the latest Omnimax Show "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag", which documents a young American F-15 Eagle pilot John Stratton, who participates in Red Flag – an international training exercise for air forces of allied countries.

At the Red Flag, many of the world's best pilots meet for the biggest challenge of their flying careers. It is the final training for pilots and their aircrews before engaging in actual combat.

Stratton’s grandfather was a decorated World War II flying ace, and he intended to follow in his footsteps. In "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag", Stratton makes his way through this extraordinary event held in the desert of Nevada. He begins to notice team members who were not a part of his childhood vision of heroism, the support team are crucial to a successful mission, and to a safe return home.

In the aerial combat exercises, there are other pilots who are not out just to prove themselves, but to help the team members and watch their back. Stratton begins to realise that being a hero is not quite as simple as he once might have thought.

Operation Red Flag's mission is to maximise the combat readiness, capability and survivability of participating units by providing realistic training in a combined air, ground and electronic threat environment while providing for a free exchange of ideas between forces. Established in 1975, Red Flag is a two-week realistic combat training exercise involving the elite aerial forces from all four branches of the US military, and their Guard/Reserve components.

Red Flag is conducted on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, as one of a series of advanced training programmes administered by the Air Warfare Center and Nellis through the 414th Combat Training Squadron. These exercises have provided training for over 400,000 elite military personnel, flying over 350,000 sorties and logging over 600,000 hours of flying time.

Red Flag participants are divided into "Blue" and "Red" forces. "Blue" forces include most of the aircraft and their mission is to defend, while "Red" forces are aggressors and deployed to attack the "Blue" forces and protect the target area.

The Nellis Air Combat Training System (NACTS), the world's most sophisticated tracking system, is utilised to monitor this mock combat between "Red" and "Blue". The system allows commanders, safety observers, and exercise directors to monitor the mission and keep score of simulated "kills" while viewing the simulated air battle as it occurs.

A typical Red Flag exercise involves a variety of aircraft including attack, fighter and bomber aircraft; reconnaissance aircraft; electronic warfare aircraft; air superiority aircraft; airlift support; search and rescue aircraft; and aerial refueling aircraft. Moreover, the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System and E-8C Joint Stars aircraft also play a significant role in the training by using their unique capabilities to monitor and support many aspects of the "Blue" force effort.

Operation Red Flag has expanded to include all spectrums of warfare, such as command, control, intelligence, electronic warfare, and has added night missions to all exercises. Upon completion of the Red Flag, graduates have completed the equivalent of their first 10 combat missions.

Photographed in the world's largest and most evocative motion picture format, this film will let viewers experience the complexity, challenge and danger of the Red Flag exercise.

The 48-minute Omnimax Show, "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag", will be screened daily at 3.50pm and 7.20pm at the museum's Stanley Ho Space Theatre. There will be an additional screening at 12.20pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The Space Museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). The programme schedule from May 23 to June 13 will be changed. Please refer to the Space Museum's website for details.

Tickets are available at the Space Museum Box Office and at all URBTIX outlets for $24 (front stalls) and $32 (stalls). Full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities will receive a half-price concession.

The Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. For further information, call 2721 0226 or visit the museum’s website at .

Ends/Friday, March 31, 2006
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