F-16s appear in airspace at Amberley

FLYING HIGH: A US Air Force F-16 fighter from the 18th Aggressor Squadron based in Alaska, seen during last year’s training sortie in the airspace near RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW.
FLYING HIGH: A US Air Force F-16 fighter from the 18th Aggressor Squadron based in Alaska, seen during last year’s training sortie in the airspace near RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW. Australian Defence

F-16 FIGHTING Falcons from the United States Air Force (USAF) 18th Aggressor Squadron have blasted into RAAF Base Amberley.

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornets welcomed the USAF jets to the base for Exercise Lightning Viper.

About 120 USAF personnel and up to 10 F-16 aircraft from Eielson Air Force Base Alaska have deployed for the training exercise and will be held at RAAF Base Amberley's Number 1 Squadron until March 24.

RAAF Group Captain Micka Gray said the exercise was vital.

"Exercise Lightning Viper allows our Super Hornet aircrew to practise large force employment tactics against the best adversaries in the world. It provides our pilots, weapon system officers and the E-7A Wedgetail air battle managers with training that they would normally only receive when deployed on overseas exercises," Group Captain Gray said.

"The Aggressors are fresh from completing Exercise Cope North in Guam against the RAAF F/A-18 Hornets from 75 Squadron, so the aircrew at 1 Squadron will undoubtedly have a first-class adversary on their hands."

The 18th Aggressor Squadron's role is to use enemy tactics, techniques and procedures for the most realistic air combat simulation. RAAF said two missions a day off the NSW coast were planned, each involving up to 16 fighter aircraft, E-7A Wedgetail and other support aircraft.

Exercise Lightning Viper will involve day flying only with no weekend flying planned.



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