Successful start for Australia during Exercise Red Flag in Alaska
15 July 2011
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18 Hornet team has made a successful start to Exercise Red Flag in Alaska, with the first week of flying now complete.
Seven Australian fighter jets have joined Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States to conduct complex air combat missions at one of the world’s best training facilities for the two week exercise which began on 11 July.
Some 170 RAAF members are among the 1400 personnel who are participating in Red Flag Alaska 11-2, the largest and most diverse Red Flag to be held this year.
The exercise, conducted from Eielson and Elmendorf Air Force Bases, in Alaska, is the United States Air Force’s most advanced international air combat training activity.
Up to 100 aircraft, including F-16, A-10, F-15, B-52 and F-18, have been battling it out in interior Alaska conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground missions during the first week of the exercise.
Commanding Officer No 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Terry van Haren, said participating in the premier air combat exercise in the Pacific provided aircrew with one of the most realistic training environments in the world.
“Exercise Red Flag in Alaska provides some of the largest airspace available in the northern hemisphere, an array of complex targets, in a multi-threat environment where we are up against both dedicated aggressor squadrons and unmanned surface threats, including surface to air missiles.”
The jets have been operating in the 67,000 square-mile Joint Alaska Pacific Range Complex, which offers world-class airspace and ranges for crews to simulate full-scale aerial battles and operate in a diverse coalition environment at the highest level.
“We have been training together for a week now and have also led several missions in highly specialised air combat war-fighting scenarios,” WGCDR van Haren said.
“This exercise also allows us to hone a range of skills sets with some of our closest allies at one of the world’s best air combat training facilities. In terms of training, this is about as good as it gets and as realistic as it would get in modern warfare.”
Australia has participated in Red Flag exercises since the 1980s as part of a long-term tactical training program necessary to maintain combat skills and readiness levels. The two week multi-national exercise will conclude on 22 July.
Media note: Interviews can be facilitated by contacting Flight Lieutenant Skye Smith. Imagery and vision from the exercise will be available for download at: http://www.defence.gov.au/opEx/exercises/redflagalaska/index.htm
Media contact: Flight Lieutenant Skye Smith – Air Combat Group Public Affairs Officer, +61 438 462 944 or skye.smith [at] defence.gov.au