Red Flag 18-1 came to an end Feb. 16 for the Royal Australian Air Force, which traveled more than 8,000 miles with nearly 300 service members and multiple aircraft to participate in the U.S. Air Force’s three-week premier air-to-air combat training exercise.
As the pinnacle of advanced air warfare training, Red Flag provided crucial joint training opportunities for the RAAF, said Group Captain Tim Alsop, deputy exercise director and RAAF task group commander.
“Red Flag 18-1 allowed us to test our high-end missions as well as build trust and friendships that allows us to be far more effective far more quickly,” said Alsop. “We use this training as a culmination of offensive roles, defensive roles and everything down to niche capabilities like personnel recovery.”
One RAAF unit that received unmatched training opportunities was the Control and Reporting Center staff, which included air surveillance operators, air combat officers, and intelligence specialists who control and separate the Red Flag aircraft as well as ensure safe and expeditious flow of the exercise aircraft in and out of the Nevada Test and Training Range, said Wing Commander Brett Risstrom, 114th Mobile Control and Reporting Unit commanding officer.
“The CRC provides the air battle management of the entire air war,” said Risstrom. “All aircraft participating in Red Flag utilize the RAAF Control and Reporting Center.”
In addition to the CRC getting in-depth training from Red Flag 18-1, all RAAF units benefited from the realistic combat scenarios during the exercise.
“We gain so much as an organization in terms of how we train and also how we operate as a deployed force in a multinational environment,” said Alsop. “This includes a range of air power roles for our Air Force personnel, from Air Superiority and Strike; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance to Electronic Warfare. It provides a comprehensive training environment for aircrew, maintenance and support personnel alike.”
Among the RAAF fleet was an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, EA-18G Growlers and an AP-3C Orion.