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Red Flag Nellis concludes after starring role for F-35s

written by Adam Thorn | February 2, 2024

A RAAF F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 in Nevada, USA. (Defence, RAF)

Exercise Red Flag Nellis has concluded with 150 Royal Australian Air Force aviators taking part in a simulated air campaign in Nevada.

The RAAF aviators worked alongside personnel from the US and the UK, with six F-35A Lightning II aircraft deployed to support the exercise for the first time. They were supported by an air battle management team.

The exercise enabled Australia, the US, and the UK to achieve the full potential of the F-35 joint strike fighter, Wing Commander Adrian Kiely, Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, said.

“The F-35A is the world’s most advanced operational strike fighter, but its full potential only becomes apparent when it’s integrated within a wider network of systems like we see at Exercise Red Flag Nellis,” WGCDR Kiely said.

“The mission scenarios require coordination to overcome a highly sophisticated air defence network, or precise integration across many domains for us to reach a distant target, all in the face of live and simulated threats.

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“Exercise Red Flag Nellis provided a highly challenging environment for the participant nations involved, testing our interoperability and allowing us to better understand what we each bring to the fight.”

The campaign enabled Australian aviators to take part in a sophisticated mission, testing the three nation’s ability to conduct joint air missions, Wing Commander Peter Mole, Commanding Officer of No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit, said.

“There are few opportunities for us to work alongside the United States and United Kingdom in an exercise as sophisticated as Red Flag Nellis, so this is a unique experience for many,” WGCDR Mole said.

“Each mission is recorded and immediately debriefed, which allows participants to better understand how the wider mission played out and the outcome of their decision making.

“We leave Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 with a better understanding of how our tactics and techniques would work in a modern air campaign and assuredness that we can easily integrate with other nations in the future.”

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