As they came back from exercising "aerial combat operations” held as part of the drill, some of these "enemy" F-16 Fighting Falcons flew “past downtown Las Vegas,” making for one hell of the show for the people in the right position to see them.
Probably no one was scared, though. First up, there’s just an 18-minute drive from the Las Vegas strip to Nellis, which also happens to be the home base for the 64th Aggressor Squadron, so these planes are known to locals, and then because exercises are routinely conducted in the area.
The 64th was first established in 1941 as a pursuit squadron fielding P-40 Warhawks, but its current form dates back to 2003. Its stated mission is to “prepare warfighters to win in air combat against any adversary” by playing the role of bad guys in simulated combat scenarios.
At the time of writing, the team employs 30 Fighting Falcons of the F-16C/M variety, “providing realistic, threat-representative, near-peer adversary air for high-end US and coalition training.”
The F-16 is the most recent aggressor platform, as since this idea of using America’s own planes against its own pilots came to be in the 1970s, various Aggressor Squadrons deployed T-38s, F-5s, and F-15Cs.