F-35 Lightning aircraft from 617 Squadron set off from RAF Marham on a transatlantic flight to take part in Exercise Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the world’s premier air combat exercise.
The RAF say that the jets will initially land back at their former home at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina before continuing their journey to Nellis Air Force Base.
Red Flag is a multinational combat training exercise which is conducted on the vast bombing ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Area. THe Ministry of Defence say that this will be the first time that the British F-35 Lightnings will have taken part in Exercise RED FLAG which will see them flying alongside a variety of aircraft from other nations to maximise combat readiness, capability and interoperability.
RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Beck said in a release:
“This is another first for the Lightning Force and will give the opportunity for our pilots to really put the F-35s to the test in a combat representative environment. This training is as near to high-end operational flying as our pilots can get in a controlled environment and will really test them and the teams that support the Squadron.”
According to the US Air Force:
“A typical RED FLAG exercise involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft (F-15E, F-35, F-16, F/A-18, A-10C, B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, FGR4, MQ-9, etc.), reconnaissance aircraft (MQ-4B, RC-135, U-2S), electronic warfare aircraft (EC-130H, EA-18G and F-16CM), air superiority aircraft (F-22A, F-15C, etc), airlift support (C-130, C-17A), Search and Rescue aircraft (HH-60G, HC-130J, CH-47), aerial refueling aircraft (KC-130, KC-135R, KC-10A, etc), multi-domain Command and Control platforms (E-3, E-8C, E-2C, E-7, R1, etc) as well as ground based Command and Control, Space, and Cyber Forces.”