NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The British Royal Air Force sent a Typhoon FGR4 squadron to participate in Red Flag for the first time in exercise 13-3.
They will learn advanced tactics in a fast tempo learning environment and demonstrate their capabilities in a coalition setting.
With augmentees from 1, 3, and 6 Squadrons, and 29 Squadron, Qualified Weapons Instructors course, 11 Squadron is back at Nellis after being the lead during the 2008 Green Flag exercise that “was part of the project that declared an initial operating capability for Typhoon in the air to surface role,” said RAF Squadron Leader Matthew D’Aubyn, Officer Commanding Typhoon, Standards and Evaluation, who is here to independently evaluate the squadrons’ tactics and standards during Red Flag.
“I’m here to learn like everyone else, but as a standards guy, I want to be here during Red Flag so I can assimilate all the lessons learned as best I can and then take them back and distribute those across the wider force,” D’Aubyn said. This will “prepare those pilots in the present and the future to operate with coalition partners in this kind of environment and across this broad spectrum,” he said.
The multi-role or “swing-role” capability of the Typhoon FGR4, as well as its advanced features, set it apart from other aircraft at the Royal Air Force’s disposal.
D’Aubyn said “we are performing both of those roles here and that’s one of the great benefits of the Red Flag training. It gives us the opportunity to practice all of our disciplines, all of our missions across a very broad spectrum of threats whilst integrating with a very large package of other aircraft.”
“What makes the Typhoon different as an advanced fighter is that you have this multitude of sensors and a whole array of information displayed that enables your situational awareness to expand to a much wider range than it ever did before on previous platforms and that’s really important, in today’s operations,” D’Aubyn explained.
A former Jaguar pilot, D’Aubyn likes how the Typhoon factors in the pilot’s needs during missions, from ease of movement to targeting.
“What I find great about flying the Typhoon is it has carefree handling, so I don’t have to worry about overstressing the aircraft because the aircraft in some parts flies itself. It just does what I tell it, which is fantastic. It has a really huge amount of power and that’s great… And we have the helmet mount to sight and that’s a really nice capability in the air-to-air role,” he added.
In 2011, the Libya revolution was a pivotal moment for the RAF Typhoons when they helped to enforce a United Nations authorized no-fly zone over Libyan airspace.
“That was the Typhoon’s first deployment on combat operations,” said D’Aubyn. “So that was a big milestone for us and we were able to do that initially in the air-to-air role but also we were able to do multi-role whilst we were out there as well. It was great because we could prove that Typhoon as a multi-role platform in that theater.”
D’Aubyn highlighted the Typhoon’s role last year to provide support to the air security plan around the London Olympics in addition to their normal standing commitments to quick reaction alert in the United Kingdom and the Falklands.
“What sets Red Flag apart I think is the facilities that we have here, the freedom of airspace, and the quality of the range and the opportunities that affords this is really excellent,” he said.
Working with coalition partners and learning their capabilities is also paramount to the training experience that they receive at Red Flag.
“We’re an expeditionary air force these days and when we go and do things we almost always do them as a coalition, so Red Flag is a brilliant opportunity to integrate and work with other coalition partners and do that within a really realistic threat environment and also experiencing really high-end training,” D’Aubyn said.
The squadron came to Nellis in a deployment capacity so the high tempo of operations is part of learning how to work in a combat scenario.
“When we stretch ourselves into that situation tactically, in the air and in the planning phase to try to pull everything together as best we can, I think that’s when the highest quality of learning takes place and that learning curve becomes as steep as possible,” D’Aubyn said.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to be here,” D’Aubyn said. “It is really great training. It’s the best training that we could possibly gain and we’re grateful to Nellis for welcoming us here. We’re going to make every effort to contribute as much as we can and learn as much as we can.”