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During Red Flag, the Blue Forces (Allies) generally tend to start from the North West Ranges that start with the numbers 70 and onwards. They also start in the
Military Operating Areas around the vicinity and also around the Tonopah Test Range who has control of this sector.
The Red Forces (Enemy) start to 'run-in' around the Desert and Reveille Military Operating Areas (MOA) around Rachel and Caliente. It is here, to the north, east, south and west of Rachel that they usually end up meeting one another and engage in massive dogfights. The Tikaboo Valley is often used by B-52H and B-1B Bombers on low-level runs north and northwest usually at heights below 1000ft. The Actual Desert MOA has a height limit of just 100ft AGL so lots of aircraft get down to move the mud regularly.
During Red Flag, the Blue Forces (Allies) generally tend to start from the North West Ranges that start with the numbers 70 and onwards. They also start in the Military Operating Areas around the vicinity and also around the Tonopah Test Range who has control of this sector.
Green Flag is centered more on the Site 4 and Tolicha Peak Ranges administered by Tonopah Test Range. The ranges around these areas have high threat facilities with Russian Equipment such as SA6, SA3 SAMs, ZSU-23-4 AAA Vehicles and various Early Warning Radar Systems. The SAMs on all the ranges are simulated by an actual rocket that is fired up towards the aircraft with a huge flare and lots of smoke.
These are called appropriately 'Smokey SAMs' and are as real as you can get without actually being fired at by a real SAM threat. On the ground during the exercises there are many military targets live and dumb. These are also in the MOAs on public BLM Land, especially around the Rachel and Cedar Gate Areas. These range from Mobile SAM units, Mobile AAA and also convoys of trucks moving or parked.
The best places to see the activities are described below.
Viewpoints and Directions using a compass heading.....
Tikaboo Peak: From here you are 7976ft high and can see right across the Tikaboo valley and well, all around you really! The aircraft going for the targets in Range 61 of which one set of targets are only a few miles inside the border and easy to see. From here also you can see the various aircraft from fighters to strategic bombers coming up the Tikaboo valley at low level and they will be below you so it is a must for the camera! ( See Tikaboo Peak Map )
Groom Lake/Area 51: The summit of Tikaboo is the best place to see Area 51, located at Groom Lake. The base is located 250° west north west of your position. Easy to find its nearly west just follow the Groom lake road up to the distance and the base is slightly to the left (south) of the Road.
Bald Mountain CP: Located at 285° from your position and is 9348ft high so you cant miss it, as well as having a control point on top together with a Radar and Satellite Annex. This is where the security can actually keep a long distance eye out for you and can see right over to Rachel also. It is here that the Control Point warns the Base not to launch any aircraft when you are 'spying'. If you are lucky you may see the Pave Hawk helicopter taking personnel up there for maintenance work.
Range 61: Range 61 is located North of a small Dry lake bed inside the border. There are targets located at 213° of your position which are located only 8 miles from Tikaboo Peak. The boundary of Range 61 is only 6 miles away. A perfect place to watch Range 61 traffic during day and night. More targets are located at 195° which works out to be 13 miles away from Tikaboo Peak and these are located actually south of the nearer targets. Further south but probably out of sight is Dogbone Lake Gunnery and Bombing Range. This is Range 62 centered over the dry lake. There are also targets here but you will not see them without extremely powerful optics.
Papoose Lake: Out of sight but if your interested the direction to look at is 240°. Papoose is located over the mountain range behind Groom Lake and to the South (left) of Area 51 itself.
Powerlines Overlook: Named by Joerg Arnu this ridge is located near Mount Irish. You need a good 4x4 to get here according to Joerg who has visited the ridge many times. From this ridge you can have a good view similar to Tikaboo but from a lower altitude of the whole of Tikaboo Valley. Good shots with the camera can be taken here too of the aircraft above, beside and below you. (See Powerlines Overlook)
Coyote Peak: Located just south east of Rachel this peak is 7910 ft. high and affords also good views of the area although some larger mountains stand in your way, such as Bald Mountain. Mount Irish is towering behind you also to the east. Sitting on top of this peak can give you spectacular views of dogfights and ACM during the Flag Exercises.
A relatively new peak for spotting, now made famous by the Swiss Mountain Bat and his group. This mountain affords views of Area 51 45 miles to the south east with outstanding views right down the length of both runways!
Now that this mountain has been made famous by being able to view operations at the base, let alone seeing down its runways, it is possible the Air Force can claim this. What makes it more possible is that the mountain is right next to the border, just like Freedom Ridge and White Sides.
Area 51: To view Area 51/Groom Lake just look southeast about 158° and with powerful viewing aids you should be able to see the base 45 miles distant.
Range 71N: Look west and its there right under your nose. You are right on the border nearly with Range 71N. It extends from west of your position to southwest of your position. Also here is Range 71S which is south of 71N obviously.
Tonopah Test Range: Only 30 miles away directly west of you at 270°. Two for the price of one sitting on this peak, the Air Force are going to love this..!
Range 74: South of your position this large range covers the Quartzite Mountain and Kawich Valley which has a large dry lake in the center of the bombing range....Used heavily during Red Flag exercises.
Hayford Peak: Not a lot of people know this peak and so not a lot of people go here...Located on the chart above directly east of Range 63. You can't miss it. The peak is ideal for viewing aircraft and like i said, not very well known at all. It is also very hard to get to and you would probably need a 4x4 vehicle. Its the large mountain located in the Sheep Range.
When I was in this area I saw many aircraft going over the peak from fast jets to C-130s. It is also 9912ft high so this affords brilliant views of the following:
Range 63: Located west at 260° and about 16 miles away. Centered around a dry lake you can't miss it. It has numerous targets dotted about and beyond you should see vehicles on Hwy 95 as well as Indian Springs Airbase.
Range 62: This range is centered over the Dogbone Dry Lake. A very long dry lake that goes from North to South in a dog bone shape obviously. This can be seen at 310° from your position. Targets are located at the southern end of the lake and at the northern end of the lake. Dogbone is about 20 miles away.
To view the coordinates of all the Military Operating Areas of California adjoining Nevada please click here : Military Operating Area (MOA) Coordinates. The page shows everything you need to plot on your chart regarding where the MOAs are located.