News National RAAF F-18 fighter becomes a ball of flame after aborted take-off at US base
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RAAF F-18 fighter becomes a ball of flame after aborted take-off at US base

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The pilots involved were not found to have acted contrary to the laws of armed conflict. Photo: AAP
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An Australian F-18 fighter has caught fire while taking part in annual Red Flag exercises at an American military base in Nevada.

A Defence spokesman said the incident involved an RAAF EA-18G Growler electronic warfare fighter jet at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas.

No one was seriously injured and all RAAF personnel are safe, he said in a statement. Defence is working with the US Air Force to investigate the incident.

A US Air Force statement said the aircraft, one of four Australian Growlers taking part in the exercises, was forced to abort its take-off on Saturday morning (local time) and then caught fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

A 340-member RAAF team has joined British units at Nellis Air Force Base for the three-week air combat training exercise, which also involves US Marines and Army units.

Australia’s contribution also includes an AP-3C Orion and a E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.

A RAAF statement issued before the mishap described the operation as “a comprehensive training environment for aircrew, maintenance and support personnel alike”.

“Participants will practice planning and executing day- and night-time missions, using large numbers of aircraft and ground systems, coordinated to overcome a considerable simulated adversary,” the statement continued.

“This includes a range of air power roles for RAAF personnel, from Air Superiority and Strike; and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance to Electronic Warfare.”

The exercises typically involve a range of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft.

US Air Force Colonel Michael Mathes says this year’s Red Flag is the largest ever and would explore a variety of additional missions beyond those of earlier years.

-with AAP