C-130 Hercules

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed participation in the multi-national air-to-air combat training exercise, code-named Red Flag 15-1, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, US.

Around 150 RAAF personnel, along with two C-130J Hercules transports and an AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft participated in the three week exercise, which also features its counterparts from the US and the UK.

In addition, Australia sent an Air Battle Management team from No. 41 Wing, to oversee missions with more than 60 aircraft, including fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, air-refuelling tankers from the three participants, in the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR).

"The tactics, techniques and procedures we learn here will be directly transferable to future aircraft and systems we will operate."

During exercise, the RAAF C-130J Hercules aircraft delivered personnel and cargo to drop zones, flying low-level along ridgelines in the NTTR.

RAAF No. 10 Squadron commanding officer wing commander Jason Begley said: "The tactics, techniques and procedures we learn here will be directly transferable to future aircraft and systems we will operate.

"Because of the extensive investment the United States has made on the NTTR, it’s a level of complexity that you can’t get anywhere else in the world."

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With 1,900 possible targets, realistic threat systems and an opposing enemy force, Exercise Red Flag 15-1 aimed to provide participants with valuable training in planning and executing a wide-variety of combat missions.

Held four times annually, Red Flag is a US Pacific Air Forces Command-led large force employment exercise designed to train pilots and other flight crew members from the US, Nato, and other allied countries for real air combat situations.

Divided into two teams, namely 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: A RAAF C-130J Hercules aircraft on its landing roll at Nellis Air Force Base, US, following a mission for Exercise RED FLAG 15-1. Photo: courtesy of LAC Michael Green/ © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.