Red Flag 2024

Red Flag 2024

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The exercise brought together an array of international aircraft, including Hornets, Growlers, F-35A and F-35B jets, for daily Air-to-Air refueling maneuvers above Nevada Test and Training Range, spanning an area roughly the equivalent to the Netherlands.

An A330 MRTT Aircraft of the MMU during take-off in front of the skyline of Las Vegas.

For the first time, the Multinational MRTTMulti Role Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) participated in the latest edition of the Red Flag exercise, a combat training exercise hosted several times a year by the United States Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base close to Las Vegas

MMU Public Affairs Office

Setting the Stage: Trail Mission to Nellis Air Force Base

Preparation for the mission began long before the jets roared into action. Collaborating closely with Dutch fighter squadrons and the European Air Transport Command (EATC European Air Transport Command), the MMU's planning cells orchestrated a meticulously coordinated oceanic crossing involving eight Dutch F-35s and two A330MRTT tankers. Negotiating altitude reservations, flight plans, and diplomatic clearances, the teams navigated the complexities of international airspace while ensuring minimal disruption to civilian air traffic. Ultimately, a route via Portugal and Canada to Bangor, USA, was picked before the final leg to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

Three Dutch F-35 jets during in formation flight.

With the help of the A330 tanker aircraft, fighter jets just like the F-35 can cover long distances without having to land for refuelling

MMU Public Affairs Office

Learning from Allies: Training with International Receivers

Following a week of acclimatization to the exercise terrain, Red Flag 24-2 kicked off in earnest. Amidst a diverse assembly of attack, fighter, and bomber aircraft, as well as electronic warfare platforms, multi-domain command and control systems and ground-based command centers from the USUnited States and its allies, the MMU's presence as a multinational tanker unit added a unique dimension to the two-week exercise.

Major David Reed, an USUnited States exchange pilot with the MMU, emphasized the unit's versatility in providing Air-to-Air refueling support alongside the four American KC-135 tankers. "Unlike our American counterparts limited to boom refueling, the MMU's A330MRTT is equipped with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems, facilitating seamless refueling operations for a variety of aircraft in the same mission."

The intense nature of Red Flag placed heightened demands on the MMU's crew, particularly the air refueling operator tasked with orchestrating the entire process within tight time constraints. Behind the scenes, MMU technicians worked tirelessly to ensure the aircraft's readiness, conducting preventive maintenance, pre- and post-flight checks and ongoing inspections to uphold safety standards throughout the exercise.

Two people refueling the A330 MRTT Aircraft.

American ground personnel work hand in hand to prepare the MMu aircraftfor ist missions. This also includes refueling the aircraft.

MMU Public Affairs Office
Technician in the cockpit of the A330 MRTT.

Important checks are also carried out in the cockpit before the start of the missions by the technicians

MMU Public Affairs Office

Looking ahead, beyond the valuable training opportunities for the aircrews afforded by Red Flag, the exercise helps the MMU to refine its logistical and operational capabilities in anticipation of future deployments, whether short-term or long-term, further enhancing its readiness for the challenges of tomorrow.

by MMU Public Affairs Office

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