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Air Force first for Exercise Red Flag at Nellis

January 26, 2015 (by Eamon Hamilton) - The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is preparing to participate in Exercise Red Flag, which commences tomorrow in the United States.

RAAF C-130J #A97-465 is seen at Nellis AFB during Red Flag 15-1 on January 22, 2015. [USAF photo]

Two C-130J Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond (NSW), an AP-3C Orion from RAAF Base Edinburgh (SA) and an Air Battle Management contingent from 41 Wing are participating in the exercise, alongside combat aircraft from the United States and the United Kingdom. This is the first time Air Force’s C-130J Hercules and AP-3C Orion have participated in Exercise Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base.

Air Commander Australia, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull said RAAF personnel would be exposed to one of the world’s most advanced airborne training exercises.

“There are few training environments in the world that recreate the dangers of a modern battlespace like Exercise Red Flag,” Air Vice-Marshal Turnbull said.

“Day-time and night-time missions at Red Flag will require large numbers of aircraft to work together across a variety of roles to defeat threats. The dangers they face range from aggressor F-15 and F-16 fighters and simulated missile shots, through to electronic warfare and cyberspace attacks.

“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.”

Wing Commander Darren Goldie, Detachment Commander for the C-130J Hercules at Exercise Red Flag, said the exercise would be a career highlight for many.

“For air mobility crews, this is one of the best exercises to train and test ourselves against the pressures witnessed on real-world operations,” Wing Commander Goldie said.

“At Exercise Red Flag, we’ll be flying on 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.”

From RAAF Base Edinburgh’s Number 10 Squadron, Wing Commander Jason Begley will lead the AP-3C Orion Detachment in conducting overland surveillance in the exercise area.

“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,” Wing Commander 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,” Wing Commander Begley said.

Exercise Red Flag 15-1 continues until 13 February 2015, with 150 RAAF personnel participating. The Air Battle Management contingent will conduct surveillance and battlespace management of coalition forces inside the exercise area.

Courtesy of Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication, Department of Defence

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RAAF C-130J #A97-467 is seen on the runway at Nellis AFB during Red Flag 15-1 on January 26, 2015. [USAF photo]