Red Flag Nellis, the world’s toughest air combat training, wraps up in Nevada

Defence Australia

Units from the United States Department of Defense, the Royal Air Force (RAF), and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have finished an intense and grueling two weeks participating in Exercise Red Flag Nellis at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, US.

Exercise Red Flag is a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise held several times a year by the United States Air Force (USAF). It is considered to be the toughest air combat training exercise in the world and aims to offer realistic training for military pilots and other flight crew members from the US and allied countries. 

The exercise makes use of enemy hardware and live ammunition for bombing exercises within the adjacent Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR)

Each year, three to six Red Flag exercises are held at Nellis Air Force Base, while up to four more, dubbed Red Flag – Alaska, are held at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. 

The Red Flag exercises have been in place for 48 years, with the first exercise launched in November 1975.

This year saw six Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs participate in the exercise for the first time.

On its website, the Nellis Air Force Base said the focus of the January 2024 Red Flag is on Indo-Pacific Theater and combating the pacing challenge alongside its allies and partners.

“The mission scenarios require coordination to overcome a highly sophisticated air defense network, or precise integration across many domains for us to reach a distant target, all in the face of live and simulated threats,” Wing Commander Adrian Kiely, RAAF Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, said in a statement.

“Exercise Red Flag Nellis provided a highly challenging environment for the participant nations involved, testing our interoperability and allowing us to better understand what we each bring to the fight,” Kiely added. 

As well as Australia and the United Kingdom, other countries that have participated in the Red Flag Exercises include: Argentina, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, NATO, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela. 

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