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Shaw F-16s Kick Off Red Flag: Members of the 79th Fighter Squadron this week kicked off Red Flag 13-3 at Nellis AFB, Nev., according to a Nellis release. Lt. Col. Jason Plourde, 79th FS commander, on Feb. 25 took to the air and led eight of the unit's F-16s during the three-week exercise's first mission, states the Feb. 27 release. The squadron, based out of Shaw AFB, S.C., has some 15 F-16s and 35 pilots at Nellis for the air combat training exercise. Plourde looks to Red Flag to help pilots hone skills, saying, "I expect each pilot will build their confidence and proficiency at dominating Red Flag threats, which is an essential building block to preparation for actual combat at the highest level." Air Force officials have said exercises, such as Red Flag, will be in danger of getting canceled or cut back under budget sequestration, which takes effect on March 1. (Nellis report by SSgt. Kenny Holston)