The Royal Australian Air Force will deploy four EA-18G Growlers from the Amberley-based 6SQN to Red Flag 18-1 at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, the first overseas exercise deployment for the new electronic attack aircraft.
The Growlers will be joined from January 29 to February 16 by an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and AP-3C Orion, and a Control and Reporting Centre element from 41WG, totalling some 340 personnel for the exercise.
“Every year the RAAF is invited to participate in Red Flag, we gain so much as an organisation in terms of how we train and also how we operate as a deployed force in a multi-national environment,” Deputy Exercise Director and RAAF Task Group Headquarters Commander, GPCAPT Tim Alsop said in a January 22 statement.
“The Growlers’ overseas deployment to a multi-national exercise of this scale, a mere year after having been transferred to 6SQN, is an important milestone for both Air Combat Group and RAAF.”
Despite primarily being a maritime ISR platform, the AP-3C has been used extensively overland in recent conflicts, using its radar, optical and, on at least two airframes, advanced electronic sensors to provide situational awareness to airborne and ground forces.
Widely considered to be the most intense and realistic air combat exercise in the world, Red Flag was started in 1975 following the Vietnam War to replicate a combat pilot’s first 10 air combat missions flying against a mix of authentic and emulated air and ground threats.