Scottish RAF fighter crews training in Las Vegas

Typhoon aircraft take-off from Nellis Air Force Base towards the Las Vegas skyline. Picture: PA
Typhoon aircraft take-off from Nellis Air Force Base towards the Las Vegas skyline. Picture: PA
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TWO RAF squadrons have swapped Leuchars for the hills around Las Vegas, as they take part in a high-profile multinational training exercise.

Typhoon crews from 1 (Fighter) and 6 Squadrons, based at RAF Leuchars near St Andrew’s, took part in Exercise Red Flag in Nevada along with around 160 military aircraft from the US, Australia, and other UK bases.

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

The exercise was designed to replicate combat as closely as possible and saw RAF Typhoons take off from Nellis Air Force Base, close to the famous Las Vegas strip, for training above the vast Nevada ranges.

Group Captain Mark Jeffery, who led the RAF deployment, said: “Red Flag is probably the premier flying exercise in the western world. We’re very lucky as we’re on the doorstep of the Nevada ranges here, a very large area where we’re able to simulate all sort of threats.

“Red Flag is the pinnacle; it’s the exercise you need to do to make sure your forces are ready. Hopefully they’ll never have to do this for real, but clearly we need to be ready to be able to do this anywhere in the world.”

Leuchars is to become an Army base by 2015 with the jets it currently hosts moving to RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

The last Leuchars Airshow was held in September last year after 65 years.

Leuchars Station Commander, Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew, said: “Red Flag is one of those rare moments when we get so many nations and so many airplanes together to do some of the best training in the world.

“We just don’t have the airspace in the UK to train at this scale. With 60 to 70 aircraft in the air at the same time it is training you just can’t get anywhere else.

“For our pilots, Red Flag is like going from GCSE to A-level very, very quickly. They do some training back in the UK to slowly build themselves up to a position of understanding, but it’s a shock to the system when you’re suddenly thrown in with that many airplanes for the first time, a real test of your mettle.”