UK Voyagers refuel US Navy Growlers during Red Flag-Nellis 22-1


During Red Flag-Nellis 22-1, a Royal Air Force (UK) Voyager tanker refueled U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, emphasizing the interoperability conducted during this iteration.

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UK Voyagers refuel U.S. Navy Growlers during Red Flag Nellis 22 1 01

A U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, receives air-to-air refueling from a Royal Air Force Voyager tanker assigned to 101 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton, United Kingdom, during a Red Flag-Nellis 22-1 mission Feb. 3, 2022, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The Nevada Test and Training Range is the U.S. Air Force’s premier military training area with more than 12,000 square miles (Picture source: USAF)


Around 2,900 personnel participated in Red Flag-Nellis 22-1 Jan. 24-Feb. 11, hailing from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines, Space Force, Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force Reserves, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.

While aircraft like the F-35s, F-22s and F-16s are refueled mid-air during the exercise with the American KC-135 Stratotanker, the Navy Growlers need a drogue system to refuel.

The Voyager is equipped with that system and serves as a force multiplier that helps keep Navy fighters in the air for longer periods during simulated combat sorties.

“Tanking off the Voyager was an absolute pleasure. The aircraft was handled very well and created an easy environment to complete tanking on,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Andrew Imperatore, commanding officer, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142. “The aircrew on board were professional, kind and flew a smooth flight path enabling us to be expeditious.”


UK Voyagers refuel U.S. Navy Growlers during Red Flag Nellis 22 1 02

Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Bracken, RAF Voyager tanker captain, and RAF Flight Lt. Renolds, RAF Voyager tanker co-captain, participate in a Red Flag-Nellis 22-1 mission Feb. 3, 2022, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The RAF 101 Squadron is one of 32 units from across the U.S. joint forces, United Kingdom (Royal Air Force) and Australia (Royal Australian Air Force) participating in Red Flag-Nellis 22-1. The Voyager is the RAF’s sole air-to-air refueling (AAR) tanker and also operates as a strategic air transport (Picture source: USAF)


During Red Flag-Nellis, units build functional teams with Air Expeditionary Wing missions, using multiple aircraft, Aggressors, threat simulations on the ground and the ability to train with partners and allies.

“Working as a part of a coalition and increasing our interoperability is key for us,” said Wing Commander John Cockroft, the Officer Commanding of 1 (Fighter) Squadron, RAF Lossiemouth, United Kingdom. “The capabilities of the United States Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, combined with our own, make us a much more effective fighting force.”

The 414th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis develops the Red Flag scenarios. The team created this iteration, building upon recent exercises, to push participating units to peak performance and interoperability.

“The problem sets that we are presenting in this Red Flag have never been seen before, and they’re not solvable unless we bring all of the forces from our allies,” said Col. Jared Hutchinson, commander of the 414th Combat Training Squadron. “One of the main focus items is working on the interoperability and integration with those forces so that we can be ready to fight alongside our allies anytime, anywhere.”


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