One of the things that I was really looking forward to about Red Flag 16-1 was the large Australian contingent that was going to be present. The Aussies were coming with Hornets and Super Hornets as well as a P-3 and an E-7 Wedgetail. They were also tanked across by a KC-30 although that sadly went somewhere else so I didn’t see it while I was there. Another benefit of the Aussies is that they bring some fun to the media panel. Sometimes these can be rather dull affairs and like pulling teeth. Previous RAAF officers have been very chatty and informative. This time was no exception.
I was pleased that the Wedgetail flew on the main media day. They were alternative AWACS resources and whether this was planned or luck I don’t know. I am just glad I got to see it fly. The Hornets have been to previous Red Flags but this was the first exercise for the Super Bugs. They have been deployed on operations, though, judging by the mission markings some jets were carrying.
I was included in a second day on base when we got to spend some time on the Aussie ramp prior to the launch of the first mission. A team of RAAF personnel escorted us around as we got a chance to check out both generations of Hornet. One of the legacy Hornets was carrying squadron anniversary markings which looked good on it. The team was operating out of a building that they had temporarily adorned with something more personnel. If you don’t immediately get it, say the phrase out loud as a response to the question “Where are you from?”
The team was also selling a bunch of squadron swag. I am not a collector of this stuff but it looked pretty cool so I was happy to part with some cash for the squadron funds. Then we retired to the EOR for the launch. Of course, that also included both types of Hornet taxiing out past us on their way to the runway. Cheers to all of the team for being so friendly and accommodating.