Royal Australian Air Force aircrew have worked alongside global participants for an online air combat exercise, Coalition Virtual Flag 15.
Hosted by United States Air Force from August 22-28, Coalition Virtual Flag 15 involved RAAF C-130J Hercules and E-7A Wedgetail aircrew working in real-time with aircrew from the United States and United Kingdom.
For the first time, the C-130J Full-Flight Mission Simulator (FFMS) operated by Number 285 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond was networked to the exercise.
Commanding Officer of Number 285 Squadron Wing Commander Nicholas Hogan said the actions of Australian aircrew in Coalition Virtual Flag 15 also affected a live‑flying exercise.
“Coalition Virtual Flag 15 coincided with Exercise Red Flag 15-4, which incorporated a combination of live, virtual and constructive assets,” WGCDR Hogan said.
“Using simulators, aircrew in Coalition Virtual Flag 15 were in a virtual equivalent of an area south of the Nevada Test and Training Range.
“They could communicate with aircrew flying real aircraft on missions for Exercise Red Flag, and be engaged by constructive or real threats in the exercise area.”
Just like a real exercise, the Hercules crews in Coalition Virtual Flag 15 flew airdrop and airland missions, with Wedgetail aircrew providing an airspace picture to all exercise participants.
“Coalition Virtual Flag 15 provided us opportunities to safely push the boundaries of our tactics, techniques and procedures in a complex operating environment,” WGCDR Hogan said.
The C-130J FFMS, which is normally used for aircrew training and currency flying, was successfully connected to Coalition Virtual Flag 15 thanks to the efforts of contracted partner CAE Australia, as well as Defence Science and Technology Group and the Australian Defence Simulation and Training Centre.
Wing Commander Tracy Douglas with the Plan Jericho team in Air Force Headquarters said exercises like Coalition Virtual Flag 15 illustrated the potential for RAAF personnel to expand their training opportunities in future.
“One of the stated goals for Plan Jericho is to use advances in information technology to boost our Live, Virtual and Constructive training opportunities,” WGCDR Douglas said.
“Coalition Virtual Flag 15 is an example of RAAF units receiving training benefits that would otherwise have required them to travel overseas and may not have been achievable with use of live aircraft.
“Plan Jericho is all about supporting bottom-up innovation, about getting smart people from Air Force and Industry together to provide real capability increases right now.
“Our participation in Coalition Virtual Flag 15 is a great demonstration of that intent.”
Imagery from Coalition Virtual Flag is available from http://images.defence.gov.au/S20152376
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999