• Credit: Defence
    Credit: Defence

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is preparing for Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1, alongside counterparts from the United States and United Kingdom.

Exercise Red Flag Nellis was established in 1975 and recreates the first ten missions of a modern air campaign within a training environment, providing invaluable experience for participants.

Held from 15 January to 2 February at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, USA, the air combat exercise will involve approximately 150 RAAF aviators supporting six F-35A Lightning II aircraft and a tactical command and control team.

This is the first time Australian F-35As will have participated in Exercise Red Flag Nellis.

“Since 1980, generations of RAAF aviators have come to this exercise, which continues to evolve and reflect the threats and challenges faced on modern operations,” said Wing Commander Adrian Kiely, Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron.

“Missions are conducted to the nearby Nevada Test and Training Range, and further to the southwest of the United States where we can integrate with maritime units. Exercise Red Flag Nellis will test every facet of our F-35A capability, allow us to integrate with our American and British allies, and practise how we project force on combat operations.”

Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 will involve approximately 3000 personnel and 100 aircraft conducting large force employment missions in a range of scenarios.

The exercise is renowned for its use of ‘aggressor’ forces, including enemy fighter aircraft, ground-based radars and simulated surface-to-air missiles, as well as cyber and space-based elements that simulate threats for each mission.

“There is a large number of aircraft, all fulfilling different roles across each mission at Exercise Red Flag Nellis, but no single aircraft is the ‘silver bullet’ that can do it all alone,” said Wing Commander Peter Mole, Commanding Officer of No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit, who will lead the RAAF Tactical Command and Control Team in the exercise.

“The tactical command and control team’s role is to manage and control all of those aircraft, alongside other elements and units working in the ground, maritime, cyber and space-based domains, to accomplish the mission. The scale and complexity of Exercise Red Flag Nellis cannot be replicated elsewhere, which makes it an outstanding place to build experience and reinforce our close working relationship with the United States and United Kingdom.”

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