Royal Australian Air Force aircrew and support personnel have successfully completed one of the world’s toughest air combat exercises in the United States.
For the past two weeks, six F-111 aircraft and two C-130 Hercules have participated in Exercise Red Flag 07 along with the United States and United Kingdom Air Forces at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas.
Day and night missions were flown in dynamic and tactically-challenging exercise scenarios. The F-111s flew up to eight sorties a day and the C-130 Hercules flew up to four per day. Skilled RAAF maintenance crews sustained a frenetic pace to maintain aircraft capability under testing timeframes.
“Both the F-111s and the Hercules were flying in excess of two-hour sorties in the morning, then had to be turned around by late afternoon to be ready for the night flying,” said the Australian contingent commander, Group Captain Mel Hupfeld.
“Several of the more experienced pilots and air combat officers have been mission commanders responsible for planning and briefing the tactics and airborne coordination for their aircraft wave.
“The overall emphasis has been on learning, but the Australian mission commanders have performed brilliantly and enhanced our Air Force’s worldwide reputation for high levels of skill and professionalism.
“Red Flag is one of the primary exercises in the world that pushes pilots to the limit. It’s as close to combat as possible,” GPCAPT Hupfeld said.
It was not just about the aircrew, a lot of work was done behind the scenes to ensure the aircraft were ready to fly.
“The ground crews have provided tremendous support to achieve this level of training,” GPCAPT Hupfeld said.
Safety and getting the procedures right, are the most important factors when training in a fast-paced environment.
“Australia’s participation in Exercise Red Flag provided an excellent training opportunity for our personnel to reinforce good operating procedures and to ensure the attainment and maintenance of the highest level of skills,” GPCAPT Hupfeld said.