An Australian electronic-warfare aircraft reportedly skidded off a runway and caught fire at a huge air-combat exercise in Nevada

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A Royal Australian Air Force RAAF EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft is being reported as damaged in an incident that occurred at 10:45 AM local time on Jan. 27 at Nellis AFB, outside Las Vegas, Nevada, according to a statement issued by Nellis AFB and quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The aircraft, one of a contingent of four Australian EF-18G Growlers at Nellis AFB for the Red Flag 18-1 air combat exercise, is part of the 340-person contingent of the Royal Australian Air Force participating in this year s first Red Flag Exercise.

Red Flag is a large-scale, highly realistic air combat exercise originating from Nellis AFB and taking place over the large air combat training ranges that surround the area.

Tweet Embed:https: twitter.com mims statuses 957425237330571264?ref_src twsrc tfwRAAF Growler apparently experienced a critical engine failure during takeoff at Nellis AFB, before skidding off the runway. Pilot and ground crew are safe. pic.twitter.com xlqS0r0eFE

Early reports in both Australian and US media say the aircraft is from the RAAF No. 6 Squadron who are participating in Red Flag now. There are also reports that the Australian EF-18Gs are operating alongside US Navy EA-18Gs at Nellis as indicated in a January 2018 article on Combat Aircraft magazine s website.

Australian journalist Elena McIntyre of Ten News Sydney reported in a tweet that an RAAF Growler apparently experienced a critical engine failure during takeoff at Nellis AFB, before skidding off the runway. Pilot and ground crew are safe.

According to an article in Australia s Air Force magazine, the first RAAF EA-18G Growler instructor pilot began flying the electronic warfare aircraft in the US at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in the United States in November 2013. Production of the first of 12 RAAF EA-18G Growlers began in 2015.

Before that, RAAF flight crews trained on the US EA-18Gs with the US Navy s Electronic Attack Squadron 129, The Vikings , permanently stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, in Washington state.

Tweet Embed:https: twitter.com mims statuses 957927282164744192?ref_src twsrc tfwAnother photo of the badly damaged RAAF EA-18G Growler that caught fire at Nellis AFB over the weekend. Said to be A46-311 pic.twitter.com YdIyFNKJl5

Photos from the accident that appeared on Twitter show the aircraft sitting upright, intact, with the canopy open and the leading-edge slats and arrestor hook down. There appears to be discoloration on the left vertical stabilizer from dark smoke also seen in photos that appeared on Twitter.

RAAF photos distributed prior to the incident show the four aircraft at Nellis AFB, with one of them painted in a special color scheme with a bright blue and yellow tail and upper fuselage. Based on the photos shown on Twitter the aircraft involved in the incident appears to be one of the other three aircraft without the special color scheme.

The RAAF received their first EA-18G Growlers in 2017. The aircraft are to be operated from the Australian RAAF Base Amberley about 50 km 31 miles southwest of Brisbane.

So far there has been no official report about the status of the Red Flag 18-1 flight operations following the incident, even though not much disruption is expected.NOW WATCH: How the US's futuristic new aircraft carrier will change naval warfare forever

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