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RAAF Growlers arrive for Exercises Red Flag Alaska

The electronic attack aircraft has flown across the Pacific to join US allies for air combat training.

The electronic attack aircraft has flown across the Pacific to join US allies for air combat training.

Royal Australian Air Force EA-18G Growlers from No. 6 Squadron have arrived in Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, following an 11,400-kilometre journey across the Pacific Ocean.

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The aircraft will take part in Red Flag Alaska 21-3 — a multi-domain, multi-platform coordinated, combat operations exercise led by the US Air Force.

En route to Alaska, RAAF Growlers were helped by USAF KC-10 Extender and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, which provided air-to-air refuelling during the second leg of the journey between Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

The US KC-135 provided additional fuel to the KC-10, which then transferred a total of 164,000-pounds of fuel to the EA-18G Growlers.

No. 6 Squadron Electronic Warfare Officer Flight Lieutenant Antonia lauded the efficiency of the exchange, which he said demonstrated the “flexible integration” between Australia and United States.

"We re-joined with the two United States Air Force tankers immediately after take-off from Guam and took approximately 50,000-pounds of fuel over the first two refuelling brackets from the KC-10," FLTLT Antonia said.

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"The KC-10 then accepted an additional 100,000-pounds of fuel from the KC-135 through force extension, which then enabled it to provide more fuel to the Growlers.

"The Growlers and KC-10 continued for another six hours to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, conducting a total of five refuelling brackets."

The nations conducted unit-specific training at Eielson Air Force Base between 26 July and 6 August as part of Exercise Distant Frontier — the forerunner to Red Flag Alaska 21-3.

Australian and US forces engaged in offensive counter air and electronic warfare training scenarios.

FLTLT Antonia noted the importance of the exercises in support of bilateral engagement and Indo-Pacific interoperability.

"International exercises enable us to access complex airspaces and facilities that are not available in Australia," FLTLT Antonia said.

"… We conduct a lot of exercises with the United States and it is important that we continue to train together. It is critical to our lethality as an Air Force that we are able to operate effectively with their platforms."

These air combat exercises coincide with multinational naval exercises set to take place over the coming weeks.

The Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac Class frigate HMAS Warramunga is currently gearing up for Exercise Malabar 21 — a high-end multinational exercise involving the US, Japan and India.

Held off the coast of Guam, the exercise is expected to involve a range of maritime operations, including live firings and anti-submarine warfare training.

This will mark the second consecutive year of Australian involvement in the trilateral exercise.

[Related: RAN to join allies off the coast of Guam]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

RAAF Growlers arrive for Exercises Red Flag Alaska
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