Three weeks of intensive air combat training wraps up today as Exercise RED FLAG 15-1 concludes at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
A contingent of 150 Royal Australian Air Force personnel have participated with two C-130J Hercules transports and an AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft, working alongside counterparts from the United States and United Kingdom.
The RAAF also sent an Air Battle Management team from No. 41 Wing, tasked with overseeing missions with more than 60 combat aircraft in the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). The 30,000-square-kilometre tract of exercise area is home to an array of ‘enemy’ radars, ground-borne defences, and Aggressor fighter aircraft.
Flying low-level along ridgelines in the NTTR, a pair C-130J Hercules from the RAAF’s No. 37 Squadron hid from prying radars to deliver personnel and cargo to drop zones.
37 SQN Commanding Officer Wing Commander Darren Goldie said the Exercise RED FLAG 15-1 training environment rated as the world’s best.
“This exercise represents the greatest test for the C-130J’s abilities since it entered RAAF service in 1999,” WGCDR Goldie said.
“During each mission, instruments on our aircraft and the monitoring equipment in the range, collect precise information about each engagement for use in debriefings.”
The face-to-face interaction between American, British and Australian personnel at Exercise RED FLAG 15-1 is invaluable to the success of future operations.
“It’s critical that we’re well prepared to participate in operations and speak the same tactical language as our partners,” WGCDR Goldie said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Exercise RED FLAG, with Australia having participated since November 1980. Throughout its history, Exercise RED FLAG has recreated an aircrew’s first 10 missions in a war-like environment to increase their chances of survival in combat operations.
No. 10 Squadron Commanding Officer Wing Commander Jason Begley said RAAF personnel worked alongside the world’s most advanced combat aircraft, including the B-2A stealth bomber, F-22A Raptor, and E/A-18G Growler.
“You only have to look at the flight line to see the regard in which this exercise is held, allowing us to operate at the leading edge of capabilities and tactics,” WGCDR Begley said.
“The tactics, techniques and procedures we learn here will be directly transferable to future aircraft and systems we will operate.”
The AP-3C Orion, from 10SQN at RAAF Base Edinburgh, conducted overland surveillance missions in a highly-complicated electronic warfare environment.
“Because of the extensive investment the United States has made on the NTTR, it’s a level of complexity that you can’t get anywhere else in the world,” WGCDR Begley said.
Imagery is available HERE.