RAAF Wedgetail Debuts at USAF Red Flag
RAAF edges closer to Initial Operational Capability
June 29, 2012 - It was the ‘eye in the sky’ for over 60 aircraft across Alaska, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing E-7A Wedgetail aircraft didn’t disappoint during its debut at United States Air Force (USAF) Exercise Red Flag Alaska June 7 – 22 at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.
The RAAF Number 2 Squadron deployed approximately 60 members for the two-week Red Flag exercise including pilots, air combat officers, airborne electronic analysts, maintenance, mission support, administration and intelligence officers.
“It was the largest and the most complex environment we’ve operate in to date,” said Commanding Officer of Number 2 Squadron, Wing Commander Paul Carpenter. “It was a fantastic opportunity for our personnel, whether it be maintenance, admin, mission support or aircrew, to develop their skills by working with large force elements on an overseas base.”
Red Flag Alaska is a U.S. Pacific Air Forces Command-led large force employment exercise designed to replicate a high-end combat environment. This was the first time the Wedgetail has participated in Exercise Red Flag.
“The RAAF is continuing to take the Wedgetail capability further afield with each exercise,” said Officer Commanding Number 42 Wing, Group Captain Tracey Friend. “Already this year we’ve flown the jet to Guan and Malaysia and now Alaska, and we are linking our operations procedures with the rest of the world.”
Aircrews were operating in the 67,000 square-mile Joint Alaska Pacific Range Complex, which offered adequate space and ranges for crews to simulate full-scale aerial battles. The Wedgetail flew ten sorties during the exercise, and also completed air-to-air refuelling (AAR) training with USAF KC-135s during that time.
“The exercise was based around a war game with a fictitious country in Southern Alaska which was subject to a no-fly zone,” said Carpenter. “The scenario evolved into simultaneous offensive and defensive counter-air operations, close air support and tactical airlift.”
The Australians undertook Command and Control (C2) responsibilities over coalition forces which included USAF A-10s, Japanese F-15s, German EuroFighters, a NATO E-3 and Polish F-16s. It was also the first time the Wedgetail crews had worked with USAF’s F-22s.
“We were focused on three main things during this exercise,” said Carpenter. “Growing the capability of our people, integration with coalition forces and preparing to employ the Wedgetail capability in the operational environment.”
The RAAF Wedgetail will also be making its debut appearance at the Waddington Air Show in Linconshire, England, this weekend 30th June to 1st July.