Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 2 2010 Contents 22 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
defence magazine ›
The snow-capped ranges of the Mojave Desert near Nevada
set a magnificent backdrop as a thunderous roar of jets started
up engines as the war games began for Exercise Red Flag.
at Red Flag
By FLTLT Skye Smith
The flightline corporal walked the line as the
mission-focused aircrew conducted their final
checks, ready to eliminate their adversaries.
With a thumbs-up to the pilots, the Hornets
The runway at Nellis Air Force Base was full with
the six Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets taking
their place in line alongside F-22 Raptors, F-16
Falcons, F-15 Eagles, a KC-135 Stratotanker and a
pair of B-1 Lancers before launching their mission.
RAAF Williamtown’s 77 Squadron led the
Australian contingent with support elements from
a number of units to comprise the 160 personnel
and eight F/A-18 Hornets that deployed to Nellis
Air Force Base, Nevada for the exercise.
Red Flag Deputy Director Group Captain Gavin
Turnbull said Australian participants showed they
were an effective part of a coalition team during
Red Flag, which is the most advanced international
air combat training activity in the world.
“The Australian forces worked closely together
with our coalition partners from the United States
and United Kingdom to effectively train together
and also lead several missions in the highly-
specialised air combat war-fighting scenarios,”
GPCAPT Turnbull said.
Three Australian pilots and an intelligence officer
were tasked as mission commanders during the
exercise and performed exceptionally well in the
The US, UK and Australian coalition combined
forces to eliminate the ‘enemy’ by setting out to
destroy up to 30 adversary fighter forces, whilst
also striking high priority strategic assets, such as
airfields and command and control locations.
The aircrews were networked with strike,
electronic warfare, suppression of enemy air
defences, tankers, airborne early warning and
control and other fighter aircraft to achieve their
To make things even more complex the ‘enemy’
used realistic SAM and radar systems to target
Commanding Officer and Exercise Mission
Commander for 77 Squadron, Wing Commander
Glen Beck, said aircrew were pushed to their limits
during Red Flag.
“Defeating surface-to-air missile systems, forming
a realistic integrated air defence system, while
keeping aggressor squadron F-16s and F-15s off
your back and deconflicting your own force can
become quite complicated,” WGCDR Beck said.
“But our pilots are highly trained and proved to our
allies that they have what it takes to do the job to
the highest standard.”
The co-ordination of more than 70 aircraft to
deliver live, inert and simulated weapons onto
a set of targets within the 15,000-square-mile
Nevada Test and Training Range, north of Las
Vegas, was a challenging task.
Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) from
Williamtown’s 4 Squadron provided essential air-
to-ground support at the range to accurately direct
aircrew onto their targets.
WGCDR Glen Beck praised his personnel for their
professionalism and ability to work under pressure
to ensure the exercise was successful.
“The many lessons to be taken away from this
exercise will help us shape our training and
influence the evolution of our networked Air
Force,” WGCDR Beck said.
“But, our aircrew could not have met all the
training objectives without the superb effort
from the maintenance and support teams
involved. Even our allies were commenting on our
fantastic mission success rate. It’s a testament
to the attitude and hard work that was put in by
everybody involved. It was an outstanding team
The aircraft launch success rate was an
outstanding 100 per cent with 95 per cent mission
generation during the two-week exercise.
“This exercise also allowed us to hone a range
of skill sets with our closest allies at one of the
world’s best air combat training facilities.
It has become the key exercise in developing our
capability at the leading-edge of air combat.
We just can’t get that level of integrated and
high-end realistic training with other exercises,”
WGCDR Beck said.
ABOVe LeFT: Flight Lieutenant Matthew Deveson from
77SQN sits in the cockpit of his F/A-18F Super Hornet as
an F-22 Raptor taxies past for a Red Flag sortie.
ABOVe RIGHT: 77 Squadron ground crews prepare
an Aussie Hornet for a night mission with Las Vegas
providing the backdrop.
RIGHT: Leading Aircraftman Paul Van Der Kooi keeps
an eye on an Australian F/A-18 Hornet as it undergoes
landing gear checks in the hangar during Exercise Red
All photos: SGT Pete Gammie
Australian F/A-18 Hornets sit on the
flightline at night ready to take off for
a strike mission on the Nellis Range.
coalition aircraft. Missile launch was emulated by the firing
of smoky SAMs, which are foam missiles that will not
damage the aircraft if they are hit. They are very realistic
from an aircrew perspective though.
Flight data from an ACMI pod carried on each aircraft
transmitted aircraft speed, height, manoeuvres and when
weapon releases occurred.
This information was displayed in a 500-seat theatre during
each live mission and again during the aircrew debrief. The
system displayed side and plan views of all aircraft, as well
as cockpit view to allow for an accurate assessment of each
individual crew’s performance.
Exercise Red Flag involved more than 70 aircraft
from the US, UK and Australia and was conducted
in the Mojave Desert, Nevada between 21 February
and 5 March.
Australia has participated in Red Flag
approximately every two years since the 1980s
as part of a long-term tactical training program to
maintain combat skills and readiness levels.
Within a typical 12-month period, more than 1200
aircraft fly 20,000-plus sorties while training more
than 26,750 personnel from across the world. Since
combat is no place to train aircrews, Red Flag
provides a peacetime ‘battlefield’ within which
combat air forces can train. Inside this battlefield,
aircrews train to fight, survive and win together.
Links Archive Issue 1 2010 Issue 3 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page