The Royal Norwegian Air Force has joined the large-scale air combat exercise Red Flag 15-2 in the Nevada desert this week. Ten Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon jets and two Lockheed C-130J Hercules aircraft landed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
The operations are supported by about 200 men and women of the RNoAF. By letting half of the Norwegian tactical airlift fleet participating the Norwegians are trying to boost the capabilities of its transport crews in modern scenarios. “It is the most valuable training in complex air operations,” major Rune Johansen of the Hercules 335 Squadron was quoted by the Norwegian Defence media centre.
Norway planned to participate in one of the Red Flag exercises in 2011, but that was cancelled due to the air war over Libya. With all planes on the ground in Las Vegas, it is the first time the Royal Norwegian Air Force participates since 2009. On an average day the Red Flag exercise keeps 60 aircraft airborne and engaged at the same time.
With the international community focusing on both the Russian-Ukrainian stand-off and the missing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, one almost forgets loads of other things happen in the world of aviation. Take the famous Red Flag exercises in the Nevada dessert. At AIRheads↑Fly we published a much viewed feature on edition 14-01, but the second Red Flag of the year went by largely unnoticed. Until now 🙂
Even the media units of the Belgian and Danish ministries of Defence hardly paid any attention to their men and women being deployed to literately the Vegas of aerial combat. Maybe they took the nickname of the host city a bit to seriously: What happens there, stays there. Only when Belgian Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge visited the operations at Nellis AFB, a little bit of news coverage followed but without any Belgian F-16s to show. From the Danish side, it was as quiet as it normally is from the Saudis who were also there this time.
The Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force both join the US air forces in the first large scale Red Flag in the Nevada desert this year, held from 27 January to 14 February. Excellent work is being done by USAF staff photographers and we collected their best shots so far.
RAF Leuchars’s 6 Squadron sent its Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4s fighters, with Panavia Tornado GR.4s strike aircraft from RAF Marham and a E-3D Sentry Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) from RAF Waddington joining in for the simulated combat. The Royal Australian Air Force sent McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornet fighters and the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.
Very well known with all military aviation enthousiasts: epicentre of the operations is Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, from where the participating aircraft will use the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). The vast operations theatre consists of 4,700 square miles (7562 km2) of land and 15,000 square miles (24,135 km2) of airspace.
The Royal Air Force opened a nice photo gallery of Red Flag 2014 but from the US Air Force staff photographers we got even more excellent hi-res material which screams to be seen! AIRheads↑Fly sends compliments to the Nellis Air Force Base Public Affairs office, and an especially warm thanks to the photographers: USAF airmen 1st class Jason Couillard, Joshua Kleinholz, Lorenz Crespo and Thomas Spangler.