Home' Air Force News : July 21st 2011 Contents 12
FLTLT Skye Smith
THE glow of the midnight sun
against the snow-capped Alas-
kan ranges set the picturesque
backdrop for the war games
during Exercise Red Flag
Seven F/A-18s from 3SQN, sup-
ported by a C-17A and C-130J, made
the 18,000km journey from Newcastle
through Townsville to Guam, Wake
Island, Hawaii, San Francisco and final-
ly Alaska for the exercise, which started
The Australian forces joined Japan,
the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and
the United States to conduct complex air
combat missions at one of the world's
best training facilities, the 67,000
square-mile Joint Alaska Pacific Range
ADF members numbered 171 among
the 1400 personnel involved in the exer-
cise.Conducted from Eielson and
Elmendorf Air Force bases, the exercise
is the US Air Force's most advanced
international air combat training activity.
Up to 100 aircraft, including F-16,
A-10, B-52 and the F/A-18s, conducted
air-to-air and air-to-ground missions
during the first week of the exercise.
CO 3SQN WGCDR Terry van Haren
said the premier air combat exercise in
the Pacific provided aircrew with one of
the most realistic training environments
in the world.
"Alaska provides some of the larg-
est airspace available in the northern
hemisphere, an array of complex targets
in a multi-threat environment where we
are up against both dedicated aggres-
sor squadrons and unmanned surface
threats, including surface-to-air mis-
siles," he said.
The Joint Alaska Pacific Range
Complex offers world-class airspace and
ranges for crews to simulate full-scale
aerial battles and operate in a diverse
coalition environment at the highest
The aircrews were networked with
strike, electronic warfare, suppression
of enemy air defences, tankers, airborne
early warning and control and other
fighter aircraft to achieve their missions.
"This exercise also allowed us to
hone a range of skillsets with some of
our closest allies at one of the world's
best air combat training facilities,"
WGCDR van Haren said.
"It has become the key exercise in
developing our capability at the leading
edge of air combat delivery."
The high-fidelity tracking of the air
combat manoeuvring instrumentation
pods equipped on the jets provided vital
data that showed the overall air picture
during a mission.
This meant the white force control-
lers on the ground were watching the
pilot's every move in real time as the
action in the sky unfolded.
3SQN performed all the roles of
a modern fighter, including defensive
counter-air, offensive counter-air, strike
and close air support missions, which
are integrated with the coalition forces.
"In terms of training, this is about
as good as it gets and as realistic as it
would get in modern warfare," WGCDR
van Haren said.
"There are many lessons to be taken
away from this exercise, which will help
us shape our training and influence the
evolution of our networked Air Force
and integration with coalition allies.
"It has been a great team effort for
the aircrew to achieve their training
objectives, which is a testament to the
entire workforce at 3SQN."
Armament technician SGT Jason
Morgan, who prepped the jets with
20mm guns, Mk82 joint direct attack
munitions and Mk82 inert laser-guided
bombs during the exercise, said it had
been fantastic to work with the USAF
and Japanese in Alaska.
"It has been really good to learn how
our coalition allies operate in this envi-
ronment and vice-versa," he said.
North to Alaska fo
FLTLT Skye Smith
FOR THE first time, a C-130J partici-
pated in Exercise Red Flag Alaska. The
significant milestone represents the first
step for the air lift workhorse in moving
towards role expansion and developing
"Never before have Australian
C-130Js operated in exercises of this
magnitude," DETCO 37SQN SQNLDR
Steven Ferguson said.
Operating from Elmendorf Air Force
Base in Alaska, the C-130J conducted
high-low airdrop and airland missions
during the two-week, multi-national
"The missions were very complex
and involved a lot of integration of
AWACS, fighters, bombers, suppression
of enemy air defence, escort, air-to-air
refuellers, close air support and airlift,"
SNOWY MOUNTAINS HIGH: Above, a formation of 3QN Hornets soar high above the Sierra
Nevada mountain range in the US on their way to Eielson Air Force Base Alaska for Exercise Red
Flag. Left, Executive Warrant Officer Air Combat Group WOFF Peter Evans greets his counterpart
from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force, WOFF Tomohiro Kawabata.
Photos: FLGOFF Shaun Hayles, CPL David Gibbs
SQNLDR Ferguson said. "We were
operating to genuine time over target
requirements to co-ordinate with the
Blue air fighters, escorts and close air
Conducting joint planning evolutions
before each mission has been the most
valuable aspect for SQNLDR Ferguson.
"The learning curve has been steep,
but we have managed to keep up with it
and have learnt a great deal about oper-
ating the C-130J in this environment and
also the coalition planning process."
The 33-strong detachment from
Richmond's 37SQN gained significant
insight into the operational processes
employed by the USAF participating in
Red Flag Alaska 11-2.
"We plan and communicate in very
similar ways and operate our respec-
tive aircraft similarly also," SQNLDR
Ferguson said. "The realism of what we
did on exercise is about as good as it
"I hope this can become a regular
exercise for the C-130J moving forward
potentially with more aircraft and crews
to increase our overall experience level
in this environment."
The Hercules also provided stra-
tegic air lift support when it delivered
23,000lb of cargo and 20 passengers t
Alaska after its 18,000km flight.
First for C-130Js in Alaska
NEIGHBOURS: The 37SQN C-130J is parked with US and Japanese
C-130s after its historic flight.
Photos: 1st LT Matthew Chism, USA
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