US, Australia and UK conclude Exercise Red Flag 16-1


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The US Air Force (USAF), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) have completed a national air-to-air combat training exercise, code-named Red Flag 16-1, at the Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, US.

The three-week exercise witnessed participation from more than 130 aircraft and 3000 aircrew including air battle managers, intelligence and support staff.

Red Flag 16-1 Coalition Air Expeditionary Wing vice-commander group captain Phil Gordon said: "The ground players and systems on the range really exercised our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and command and control assets to build a picture of the battle space, and enabled us to communicate the threats and strike targets.

"The exercise was a great success and we took away some excellent lessons. We combined the strengths of both aircraft to deliver an optimum outcome."

The RAAF deployed six F/A-18F Super Hornet twin-engine carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft, six F/A-18 A/B Hornet aircraft and an AP-3C Orion equipped with features to track down and sink enemy submarines using torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C.

"This was an excellent opportunity to understand how to work with the Growlers effectively in what has been the largest and most successful Australian contribution to Exercise Red Flag to date."

Gordon added: "This was an excellent opportunity to understand how to work with the Growlers effectively in what has been the largest and most successful Australian contribution to Exercise Red Flag to date."

Designed to train pilots and other flight crew members from the US, Nato, and other allied countries for real air combat situations, the Red Flag 16-1 involved a battle space recreation to enable the air force personnel to display their abilities in a deployed scenario.

The exercise is part of a series of advanced training programmes administered at Nellis AFB and on the Nevada Test and Training Range by organisations assigned to the US Air Force Warfare Center.

Divided into two teams, Blue Forces and Red Forces, the participants perform counter air, precision strike and offensive air support in packages of up to 100 aircraft during each exercise.


Image: Participants during combat training exercise, Red Flag 16-1. Photo: © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.