Alaskan challenge for Air Force Hercules
17 June 2014
A pair of Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft is facing one of the world’s toughest air combat scenarios at Exercise Red Flag Alaska 14-2.
Since 12 June 2014, a contingent of 68 RAAF personnel has been working from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, alongside other participants from United States and Japan. The exercise is due to conclude on 27 June.
Commanding Officer for No. 37 Squadron, Wing Commander Darren Goldie, said exercises like Red Flag Alaska were an important training opportunity for his personnel.
“We’ll be flying Hercules on tactical airlift missions as part of a wider group of aircraft that includes strike jets, fighters and surveillance aircraft,” WGCDR Goldie said.
“The training environment at Red Flag Alaska is one of the world’s most complicated recreations of a modern battlespace, with simulated missiles, enemy radar systems, and ‘aggressor’ fighter jets.”
The RAAF C-130Js will debut a recently upgraded electronic warfare self-protection system at the exercise, which will greatly help avert enemy attack.
“The aircrew have been developing techniques to use these systems, but Exercise Red Flag Alaska will provide a suitably complex training environment before we ever have to employ it in the real world,” WGCDR Goldie said.
“Coming to Alaska to work alongside foreign militaries is also critical to our success on real-world operations.
“Everyone who comes to Red Flag Alaska gets something from this, including our maintenance personnel, logistics and supply workforce, and personnel capability specialists.”
The Hercules can transport up to 20 tonnes of payload or more than 100 passengers, and can operate from semi-prepared airfields with little or no infrastructure, or deliver paratroops or cargo to a drop-zone by parachute.
The C-130J variant was introduced to RAAF service in 1999, and builds on six decades of Australian Hercules transport operations that extend back to the Vietnam War. Different models have seen use on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on peacekeeping operations in Africa, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.
“No. 37 Squadron is well-versed in conducting sustained operations away from home, which is something that we will be once again rehearsing during Red Flag Alaska.
“It is extremely fulfilling for us to have this opportunity,” WGCDR Goldie said.
File imagery of Air Force Hercules during previous Red Flag Alaska exercises is available from http://bit.ly/1oI64sC. Air Force can facilitate interviews with exercise personnel on request.
Eamon Hamilton (Air Mobility Group Communications Adviser) 0429 868 794