Royal Australian Air Force aircraft and personnel are at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to participate in the United States Air Force’s most advanced international air combat training activity, Exercise Red Flag, which commenced this Sunday.
No 77 Squadron from RAAF Base Williamtown are leading the activity, with eight F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet aircraft and approximately 160 Air Force personnel from across Australia deploying to Exercise Red Flag to conduct complex air combat missions at one of the world’s best training facilities.
Australian forces will join the US and UK for the two week multinational exercise that concludes on March 5. Commander Air Combat Group, Air Commodore Mel Hupfeld says Exercise Red Flag involves a series of air combat scenarios that test operational air and ground crews to the highest level. It provides the ultimate environment in which our Air Force personnel can showcase their extraordinary abilities in a deployed scenario.
“…Red Flag provides a level of operational simulation not available in Australia or the region, and regular participation is a major contributor to Australia’s high standard of air combat capability,” Hupfeld added. The large scale exercise will involve experienced aircrews from the different air forces flying strike, electronic warfare, tactical transport, fighter escort, airborne warning and control and air-to-air refuelling aircraft against dedicated defensive fighter aircraft and an extensive range of simulated surface to air threats.
“Red Flag also provides invaluable training for our logistics, support and maintenance personnel as they are able to practice deploying to another country and working together with other Air Forces,” Hupfeld said. Strategic air lift and logistic support will be provided by C-130H and C-130J Hercules from 37 Squadron at RAAF Richmond.
The exercise is conducted on the 15 000-square-mile Nevada Test and Training Range, north of Las Vegas. Red Flag is one of a series of advanced training programmes administered by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and Nellis, through the 414th Combat Training Squadron. SAouth Africa has to date not taken part in Red Flag.
Pic: A Lockheed Martin F16C fighter attached to a Red Flag aggressor squadron at Nellis AFB. The aircraft, painted in a typical Former Soviet Union camouflage scheme – and bearing Soviet Guards insigia on its air intake, forms part of the opposing force during Red Flag.