RAAF participation in Red Flag 17-1 concludes

RAAF C-130J Hercules takes off Nellis Air Force Base during Exercise Red Flag 17-1. (Defence)
A RAAF C-130J Hercules takes off from Nellis Air Force Base during Exercise Red Flag 17-1. (Defence)

Australia has wrapped up its involvement with Exercise Red Flag 17-1, following three weeks of missions that Commander of the Australian contingent Group Captain Stuart Bellingham described “as realistic as it gets”.

Red Flag is a large force employment combat training exercise that provides a complex and highly advanced threat environment in which to practise high-end coalition warfighting skills.

RAAF deployed 200 personnel, a C-130J Hercules tactical airlifter and an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C platform to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for the exercises alongside units from the United States and United Kingdom.

The three-week training exercise also featured the debut of the US Air Force F-35A Lightning II, as well as the participation of the US Navy EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, both of which will soon enter service with the RAAF and are due to be on display at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon.

RAAF No. 2 Squadron walk out to an E-7A Wedgetail during Exercise Red Flag 17-1. (Defence)
RAAF No. 2 Squadron walk out to an E-7A Wedgetail during Exercise Red Flag 17-1. (Defence)

The types of missions conducted included a combat control team that parachuted in freezing conditions to a dry lake bed for an airfield survey; to air battlespace managers who controlled movements for more than 70 friendly and enemy aircraft, Defence said.

Commander of the Australian contingent Group Captain Stuart Bellingham said the missions were “gruelling and rigorous”.

“By coming here, we’re preparing for high-end war fighting, so we can deploy at short-notice on operations, and have confidence that we are going to be successful,” GPCAPT Bellingham said in a statement.

“We’ll take information and training back and feed it into our force preparation, and will translate into our current operations.

“In my 30 years of the Air Force, this is one of the highlights, being at the exercise is as realistic as it gets.”

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail and C-130J Hercules at Nellis Air Force Base during Exercise Red Flag 17-1. (Defence)
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail and C-130J Hercules at Nellis Air Force Base during Exercise Red Flag 17-1. (Defence)

An important aspect of the training focused on personnel that were embedded within the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre (CAOC), which was responsible for planning the Red Flag missions and ensuring they were coordinated with space and cyber-based efforts, which can be contested by an aggressing force.

GPCAPT Bellingham was the first non-US participant to be Director of the CAOC, leading 250 American, British and Australian personnel. This was the first time a coalition nation has performed this role in such an exercise.

“We are integrated with these capabilities from start to finish, from planning missions, through to debriefing the missions,” GPCAPT Bellingham said.

“Australia has air battlespace managers from No. 2 Squadron and No. 41 Wing who are controlling the Red Flag airspace, and getting first-hand experience how these capabilities can be employed.

“We’re getting real insight into understanding the capabilities and what Australia’s future is going to look like.”

A YouTube video from AiirSource Military features some of the action from Exercise Red Flag 17-1.

Comments

  1. Mick181 says

    A lot of people will carry on about hw Fighter A is better then Australias Hornet Fleet and will be better then the JSFs because they can’t dogfight and all that rubbish. Its the realism of exercises like this that will give the RAAFies the edge. Vastly superior trg, allied to force enablers, superior ISR and planning. will defeat better Fighters anytime anywhere.

  2. Josh James says

    I’m constantly amazed at the people who line up to take a shot at the F-35. It’s exercises like Red Flag and RIMPAC that shows how potent the 35 will be. I can sleep sound knowing such state of the art aircraft like the Rhinos, Growlers, Wedgies, Posiedon, etc are being flown by the best to defeat the worst.
    Oh, don’t forget that the F-111 wasn’t exactly the best when it was in its infancy.
    Well done RAAF. Per ardua ad astra

  3. Daryl says

    I see a kill ratio of 15:1 (in favour of the F-35) mentioned elsewhere from this latest Red Flag Meet.Wonder if there were any F-22 encounters in these stats.Look forward to them arriving down here in numbers.

  4. Jasonp says

    F-22s are not used as adversaries in Red Flag as this would be a negative learning effort. The F-22s and F-35s were on the blueteam.

  5. Harry says

    Mick & Paul, agreed! Would be nice to combine them w/ air-superiority fighters like the US is planning for them

  6. Mick181 says

    What people have to realise is that Fighters when acting as adversaries in exercises like Red Flag, fly and fight in a pre-determined way that copies the Aircraft of a potential enemy. In the old days they would use the tactics of Soviet Fighters. Example they would have F-16s/F-5s mimicking Mig 21s
    We don’t spend millions of dollars going to Nevada & Alaska or hosting US Squadrons here to learn how to fight the USAF that would be pointless.

  7. says

    Just a thought guys,do u think the radar facilities at Groom Lake are monitoring and grabbing vital stats on participating assets at Red Flag?

  8. Hayden R says

    What about China’s J-10, J-20 and J31?
    I see the f-22 and eurofighter perfect equivalents to them!