Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aviators have joined counterparts from the United States and United Kingdom on Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 – considered one of the world’s toughest air combat training environments – to hone their war-fighting skills.
Around 150 RAAF personnel and six F-35A Lightning II aircraft are participating in the exercise, that runs from 15 January to 2 February at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, United States.
The members are from 3 Squadron, 1 Combat Communications Squadron, 3 Control and Reporting Unit, 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit, 87 Squadron and 1 Security Forces Squadron
Exercise Red Flag was established by USAF in 1975 after the Vietnam War revealed the first ten combat missions to be the most dangerous for aircrews. The first ten missions of a modern air campaign are recreated in Red Flag to provide an invaluable experience for all participants.
RAAF’s Commanding Officer of 3 Squadron Wing Commander Adrian Kiely said this is the first time RAAF F-35As have participated in Exercise Red Flag Nellis.
“Generations of RAAF aviators have come to this exercise since 1980, and it continues to evolve and reflect the threats and challenges faced on modern operations,” Wing Commander Kiely said.
“Missions are conducted to the nearby Nevada Test and Training Range, and further to the southwest of the United States where we can integrate with maritime units.
“Exercise Red Flag Nellis will test every facet of our F-35A capability, allow us to integrate with our American and British allies, and practice how we project force on combat operations.”
This year’s exercise involves about 3000 personnel and up to 100 aircraft conducting large force employment missions in a range of scenarios.
The exercise is renowned for its use of ‘aggressor’ forces including simulated enemy fighter aircraft, ground-based radars and simulated surface-to-air missiles – and even cyber and space-based elements that simulate threats for each mission.
Commanding Officer of 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit Wing Commander Peter Mole will lead the RAAF Tactical Command and Control Team in the exercise.
“There is a large number of aircraft all fulfilling different roles across each mission at Exercise Red Flag Nellis, but no single aircraft is the ‘silver bullet’ that can do it all alone,” Wing Commander Mole said.
“The Tactical Command and Control team’s role is to manage and control all of those aircraft, alongside other elements and units working in the ground, maritime, cyber and space-based domains, to accomplish the mission.
“The scale and complexity of Exercise Red Flag Nellis cannot be replicated elsewhere, which makes it an outstanding place to build experience and reinforce our close working relationship with the United States and United Kingdom.”