F-35s fly back from Nevada

Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 has concluded after three weeks of high-intensity air combat training at Nevada and airspace in the southwest of the United States.

CAPTIONA RAAF F-35A Lightning II pilot gives the thumbs up during Exercise Red Flag Nellis in Nevada, US. Story by Flight Lieutenant Claire Burnet.

Working with counterparts from the United States and the United Kingdom, RAAF deployed six F-35A Lightning II aircraft to Red Flag Nellis for the first time, along with an air battle management team to coordinate the missions.

About 3000 personnel (including 150 from RAAF) conducted a simulated fifth-generation air campaign in the challenging environment of a congested training airspace.

Commanding Officer 3 Squadron Wing Commander Adrian Kiely said the exercise helped to ensure RAAF F-35As could meet Defence Strategic Review capability priorities.

CAPTIONRAAF aircraft technician Leading Aircraftman Sam Williams conducts pre-launch checks with a US Air Force colleague on the F-35A Lightning II. Photo by 1st US Air Force Lieutenant Nathan Poblete.

“The F-35A is the world’s most advanced operational strike fighter, but its full potential is realised when it’s integrated within a wider network of sensors and systems like we see at Exercise Red Flag Nellis,” Wing Commander Kiely said.

“The mission scenarios require deep planning and coordination to overcome a highly sophisticated air defence network, or precise integration across many domains for us to reach a distant target, all in the face of live and simulated threats.

“Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 provided a challenging environment for the participant nations involved, testing our interoperability and allowing us to better understand what we each bring to the fight.”

Commanding Officer 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit Wing Commander Peter Mole led the RAAF Tactical Command and Control Team that coordinated and directed missions during the exercise.

CAPTIONRAAF Flight Lieutenant Emily Wilson sits in a Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon FGR4 with RAF pilot Flight Lieutenant Simon Tofrik. Photo by RAF Air Specialist Class 1 Jake Hobbs.

“There are few opportunities for us to work alongside the United States and the United Kingdom in an exercise as sophisticated as Red Flag Nellis, so this is a unique experience for many,” Wing Commander Mole said.

“Each mission is recorded and immediately debriefed, which allows participants to better understand how the wider mission played out and the outcome of their decision-making.

“We leave Exercise Red Flag Nellis 24-1 with a better understanding of how our tactics and techniques would work in a modern air campaign, and assuredness that we can easily integrate with other nations in the future.”

CAPTIONParticipants of Exercise Red Flag Nellis stand in front of a RAAF 3 Squadron F-35A Lightning II and a Royal Air Force 3 Squadron Typhoon FGR4. Photo by RAF Air Specialist Class 1 Jason Russell.


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