Home' Air Force News : March 31st 2011 Contents 4
March 31, 2011
PRACTICE the way we plan to fight
-- this was the unofficial motto for par-
ticipants in Exercise Red Flag.
The latest instalment, Red Flag
11-3, was held at Nellis Air Force
Base in Nevada from February 21 to
The US Air Force (USAF) invited
37SQN to send a pair of C-130Hs to
provide tactical airlift for Blue Force.
It's the third time 37SQN C-130Hs
have attended. Before 2007, C-130Hs
participated in numerous Red Flags.
Coordinated by the 414th Combat
Training Squadron, Red Flag was
born out of the USAF's experiences in
the Vietnam War, where an aircrew's
chances of survival improved after
completing 10 combat missions.
Red Flag 11-3 tested crews by rec-
reating combat missions in a learning
It entailed a series of day and
night-time missions based on realistic
mission scenarios, with Blue Force
players briefed en masse before each
Participating air forces brought
their 'Tip of the Spear' units to
Nevada this year. The Blue Force
package included USAF F-22 and B-2
Stealth aircraft, F-16 and A-10 jets,
THE world's most complicated air com-
bat exercise was not limited to the sky.
On the ground, the US Air Force
(USAF) took great lengths to ensure
Exercise Red Flag 11-3 provided realistic
training for combat controllers.
The RAAF dispatched a 4SQN com-
bat control team to the exercise, working
alongside a contingent from Army's 2
Australian personnel worked with
counterparts from the US Army's Special
Forces Group from Fort Bragg and
USAF's Special Operations Command.
British forward air controllers also
Leading the 4SQN contingent,
SQNLDR Harvey Reynolds said they
were frequently involved in joint training
with USAF elements in major exercises
both in Australia and overseas.
"Combat controllers receive signifi-
cant exposure to US forces during opera-
tional deployments," he said.
Ground elements launched out of
Creech Air Force Base into the exercise
area, which bears a strong physical simi-
larity to Afghanistan.
The combat controllers provided ter-
minal control for airdrop missions being
conducted by USAF and RAAF C-130s,
as well as reconnaissance of landing
Much as they would in a real opera-
tion, the combat controllers also provided
terminal control for US A-10 close air
support jets and Royal Air Force Tornado
GR4 strike jets.
The Tornados delivered Paveway IV
225kg bombs, which possess GPS and
laser guidance to hit targets designated
by combat controllers.
Just as the air combat element had
to worry about aggressor units shoot-
ing them down, combat controllers and
commandos were faced with opposing
"Finding this variety and complexity
Red Flag delivers
and an array of surveillance aircraft.
US Navy E/A-18G Growlers provided
Blue Force with its electronic attack
ability and the Royal Air Force par-
ticipated with a squadron of Tornado
GR4 strike jets.
Our C-130Hs carried the callsign
'Krait', a species of venomous snake.
Like their namesake, the C-130s stayed
close to the ground well below the Blue
FLTLT Neil Bowen, a C-130H
Qualified Flying Instructor with
285SQN, attended his first Red Flag
and described it as a steep learning
curve. "We worked as part of a larger
mission package, and it was rare that we
got to fly alongside so many specialised
aircraft types, like fighters or close air
support," FLTLT Bowen said.
"Aligning our procedures is always
a challenge with coalition partners.
One of the highlights was working
alongside coalition partners.
"We have to fly with A-10
Warthogs, which provide an escort
against any groundborne threats."
The USAF A-10s were an escort
for 37SQN's C-130s in some mis-
sions, attacking ground-based tar-
gets in the Nevada Test and Training
Covering 24,000 sq km of the
Mojave Desert, the NTTR is a jig-
saw of smaller zones which include
restricted areas, public roads, drop
zones and weapons ranges.
For Blue Force, the NTTR fea-
tured the friendly nation of 'Caliente'
in the east, which was being threat-
ened by the forces of 'Coyote' and
'Wolf' to the west.
FLTLT Nathan Broome, an air
combat officer with 37SQN, said it
was good to get out into a realistic
environment and see how force inte-
"In the big picture, we were
dealing with air-to-air aircraft, air-
to-ground, and airborne controlling
agencies like the E-3s," he said.
The 37SQN aircrews had a busy
workload, especially when the
NTTR's mountain ridges and valleys
required careful negotiation to reach
ACE DEPLOYMENT: A 37SQN technician displays the custom badge for the unit's deployment to Exercise
Red Flag 11-3 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Photo: Eamon Hamilton
Danger lurks from
down below too
is rare outside of an actual operational
theatre -- we are coordinating delivery
of multiple elements of air power to
enable advanced force operations,"
SQNLDR Reynolds said.
"Red Flag is one of the leading
high-end warfighting exercises in the
The exercise also allowed 4SQN
to build on existing links between air-
crew and ground forces, especially
with 2 Commando.
"We conduct detailed mission
planning with aircrew and ground
forces and provide embedded sup-
port to the commando regiment's
Special Operations Force missions,"
SQNLDR Reynolds said.
"Combat controllers are all com-
mando-trained so the close relation-
ship begins from the outset of their
career in this field.
"The ongoing support to 2
Commando combat operations also
necessitates a very close working rela-
tionship. Interoperability on opera-
tions is critical and we take it very
GROUNDING: 4SQN combat
controllers provided terminal
control on the ground for
participating aircraft, including the
RAF Tornado GR4 (above). Photo:
Staff Sergeant William P. Coleman, USAF
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