Both crew members of a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing EA-18G Growler escaped serious injury when their aircraft caught fire at Nellis AFB, Nevada on 27 January.

Confirming the incident via a Twitter post, Australian defence minister Marise Payne said it had occurred "on the runway during take-off," and added: "All personnel are safe, and an inquiry has commenced."

Images of the aircraft posted on social media show the EA-18G's rear fuselage section as having been extensively damaged by fire, most notably around its starboard GE Aviation F414 engine. Its crew exited the cockpit without having to use their ejection seats.

Four of the RAAF's electronic warfare aircraft had touched down at the US Air Force base several days before the incident, to participate in the Red Flag 18-01 exercise. The commitment marks Australia's first international exercise involving the Growler.

RAAF EA-18G Growler - Commonwealth of Australia

Commonwealth of Australia

Canberra had acquired 12 of the type for use by its 6 Sqn, with the last examples having arrived at its Amberley base in Queensland in 2017.

Australia's Red Flag detachment – which totals around 340 RAAF personnel – also includes a Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control system platform and a Lockheed Martin AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft.

To run between 29 January and 16 February, Red Flag 18-01 also involves multiple types from the US services, plus Eurofighter Typhoons from the UK Royal Air Force.