Two RAAF C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from RAAF Base Richmond, an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from RAAF Base Edinburgh, and an Air Battle Management contingent from 41 Wing, are currently taking part in Exercise Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, alongside US and UK combat aircraft.
Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull said that 150 RAAF personnel would be exposed to one of the most advanced airborne training exercises in the world. “There are few training environments in the world that recreate the dangers of a modern battlespace like Exercise Red Flag,” he said in a statement.
“Daytime and nighttime missions at Red Flag will require large numbers of aircraft to work together across a variety of roles to defeat threats…this is essential to our people maintaining their skills in conducting airborne operations and ensuring the RAAF’s ability to synchronise its efforts with allied partners.”
It is the first time the RAAF has sent the AP-3C and C-130J to a Red Flag at Nellis.
“The Orion will help build ‘the big picture’ of what’s happening on the ground and in the air within the exercise area at Exercise Red Flag,” 10 Squadron commanding officer Wing Commander Jason Begley said.
“We’re coming to this exercise with considerable experience in this role, especially from Operation Slipper over Afghanistan, where we regularly provided support to Diggers on the ground. The scale and complexity of Exercise Red Flag makes it quite unique however, so we stand to gain a lot of experience in working with partners.”
The C-130Js, meanwhile will be flying tactical airlift missions.
“At Exercise Red Flag, we’ll be flying … tactical air mobility missions into a hotly contested airspace. This demands cooperation between crew members, and cooperation with ‘friendly’ aircraft, to achieve the mission and get home unscathed,” C-130J red Flag detachment commander Wing Commander Darren Goldie said.
RAAF C-130Js have participated in Red Flag Alaska exercises in the past, while the RAAF’s now-retired C-130H model Hercules were regular attendees at Nellis-based Red Flags, most recently in 2011.
Red Flag 15-1 began on January 27 and runs until February 13.