The Royal Australian Air Force’s Wedgetail aircraft is participating in the most advanced international air combat training activity, Exercise Red Flag in Alaska.
Red Flag Alaska, led by the United States Pacific Air Forces Command is a large force employment exercise designed to replicate a high-end combat environment. The two week-long exercise officially commenced on Thursday, June 7.
Up to 60 personnel from RAAF Williamtown’s Number 2 Squadron and more than 70 personnel from RAAF Richmond’s Number 37 Squadron will participate in world-class air combat training in the skies above Alaska for the next two weeks.
Commanding Officer Number 2 Squadron, Wing Commander Paul Carpenter said this was the biggest exercise yet for the brand new E-7A Wedgetail aircraft and would involve a series of air combat and surveillance scenarios that would test operational air and ground crews to the highest level.
“This exercise will be an important one as we move towards declaring Initial Operational Capability (IOC) later this year,” Wing Commander Carpenter said.
“Red Flag will also provide excellent opportunities for our personnel to integrate with a joint task force to learn how other countries operate.”
Aircrew will be exposed to large force employment on a scale not possible in Australia, when they perform counter air, precision strike and offensive air support in packages of up to 60 aircraft.
A C-130H and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from 37SQN will also participate in the exercise, and will practice a variety of roles including airdrop of cargo and landing at deployed airfields.
“The C-130H and C-130J personnel must be proficient in operating their aircraft in a range of environments and scenarios, in order to support Defence operations,” said Officer Commanding Number 84 Wing, Group Captain Donald Sutherland.
The coalition exercise will see participants from Australia, the US, Germany, Poland, Japan and the NATO E-3A Component, together with Russian and Bangladeshi military observers working together in one of the largest activities the RAAF will be involved in this year.
Red Flag Alaska will be operating in the 67,000 square-mile Joint Alaska Pacific Range Complex, which offers adequate space and ranges for crews to simulate full-scale aerial battles.
Exercise Red Flag Alaska 2012 will run until 22 June 2012.