RAF and RAAF At Red Flag 2017-1


2017-01-28 Red Flag 2017-1 is providing an opportunity to shape concepts of operations for integrated 4th-5th generation combat capabilities to prevail in a contested airspace.

Significant ISR and cyber tools are being engaged in the exercise along with new USAF fifth generation capabilities — both F-35 and F-22 — along with coalition capabilities, including the Wedgetail and the Voyager, both of which represent state of the art airpower contributions.

The Typhoon is playing a key role with the RAF providing its unique capabilities which are being integrated into an advanced coalition combat capability.

According to an article published on the UK Ministry of Defence on January 27, 2017, the RAF is participating in Red Flag 2017 with Typhoon and Voyager Aircraft.

Based at Nellis Air Force Base, Exercise Red Flag pits ‘Blue’ coalition forces against hostile ‘Red Force’ aggressors, mirroring real-life threats in air-to-air, air-to-ground, space and cyber warfare.

Red Flag’s live element takes place over the US Air Force’s premier military training area in Nevada; over 15,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land – an impossible scale to achieve in Europe.

Speaking about the Exercise, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“The RAF is playing a major role alongside our greatest ally in the world’s leading aerial combat training exercise.

“Britain’s pilots and aircrews will receive unparalleled training and an opportunity to sharpen the combat skills they are demonstrating every day in the fight against Daesh.

“Training alongside two of our greatest allies in America and Australia shows how the UK is stepping up internationally, ensuring maximum interoperability with our partners, and in doing so helping keep Britain safer and more secure.

Typhoon jets, from 6 Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth, are operating in a swing-role capacity, fighting their way into hostile airspace, launching precision strikes on ground targets and fighting their way out again.

Working with the US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Lightning II for the first time, and with USAF F-22 Raptors; the exercise has been a hugely rewarding exposure to 5th Generation aircraft for RAF crews ahead of the F-35B’s introduction into the RAF’s combat inventory in 2018.

This is also the first time the RAF’s Voyager is taking part in the exercise. The Voyager is providing key air-to-air refuelling capability during the exercise, while a Sentinel and Rivet Joint are gathering intelligence and other mission-critical information.

Speaking from the exercise, Group Captain Graham Pemberton, RAF Detachment Commander said:

“Red Flag replicates truly challenging, high-end warfare, from realistic aerial combat to emerging cyber and space threats. It’s as close as we can get to the real thing.

“Testing ourselves against highly capable enemy aggressors is hugely beneficial and improves and readies our personnel, from pilots to those in crucial support roles, for real world operations.

“It’s a privilege for us to work with our US Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force counterparts and to cement our relationships with them at an exercise of this scale.”

The exercise will run until early February and marks the start of three months of RAF Typhoon activity in the USA.

Typhoons taking on fuel from a RAF Voyager tanker during Exercie Red Flag.


The RAAF is engaging as well in this high-end fight exercise with some of its most advanced assets involved.

Notably, the Wedgetail and its advanced capabilities for battle management and tron warfare are part of the evolution not only of the con ops but of the next round of software upgrades for the aircraft itself.

And as the USAF looks to its next generation air battle management capabilities and approach, the performance of Wedgetail is providing an important input to thinking through the future approach.

The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed a contingent of approximately 200 personnel to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for Exercise Red Flag 17-1, taking place from 23 January to 10 February 2017.

Exposure to this environment, and to the technologies utilized in a modern battlespace, enables the RAAF to develop its people and techniques as it introduces more advanced air power capabilities under Plan Jericho.

The first slideshow shows RAF aircraft at the exercise, the first photo is credited to the RAF and the second to the RAAF.

The second slideshow shows the RAAF aircraft at the exercise and the photos are credited to the Australian Ministry of Defence.