3(F) SQN UPDATE
Ex GREEN FLAG
DURING MARCH A US ARMY BATTALION (AROUND 5000) WERE CONDUCTING FINAL TESTS CULMINATING IN A 14 DAY EXERCISE IN THE NEVADA DESERT, USA. OPPOSING THEM WERE 1500 PERSONNEL TRAINED TO MAKE TACTICAL PROBLEMS AND RUTHLESSLY EXPOSE ANY WEAKNESSES. THIS EXERCISE IS EXERCISE GREEN FLAG.
The President himself undersigns a battalion’s proficiency only if they demonstrate combat effectiveness in difficult environmental conditions such as what Green Flag provides. Additional units provide specialised support to the battalion under assessment and for this exercise 3(F) Sqn provided the air support. This comprised Close Air Support to friendly troops amongst the hostile force wielding capable surface to air threats.
3(F) Sqn deployed over 100 personnel to support 8 Typhoons flying 2 waves everyday. The engineering and op support was outstanding with an unrelenting schedule and ever changing requirements. Through the hard work and long hours the team produced 232 flying hours over 2 weeks and 2 days. Not only did this give the US Army an impressive level of support it also allowed the pilots to achieve training objectives that would be otherwise difficult in the UK. Several pilots accomplished their first live Paveway 4 release and first live strafe (air to surface attacks with the gun). This is a significant milestone in a pilot’s career and working with live weapons provided invaluable training for ground crew, in particular the armourers.
One of the most useful elements of the exercise was that it allowed crews to train against a capable adversary with surface to air missile emulators. This provided a tactical challenge and required high interaction with intelligence and liaison personnel. Along with complex co-ordination in unfamiliar airspace, crews faced a realistic and evolving scenario from which lessons were identified that will be shared with the whole Typhoon Force.
Exercise personnel were accommodated in Las Vegas and flew from Nellis Air Force Base. The days began early with transport leaving the accommodation at 0300 for the pilots and operations staff and 0400 for engineers. Despite the early start times, morale remained high, helped by the impeccable weather! At the final de-brief 3(F) Sqn and attached personnel were congratulated by the White Force (the hosts who run the exercise) for well delivered air support which was noted to be above the usual level.
Overall the exercise was excellent value for building on our relationship with the US military as well as developing the 3(F) Sqn team (and detached guests). Lessons that were identified will be taken forward to future exercises and potential deployments, not only for the individuals who were on the exercise but for the Typhoon Force as a whole.