Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 8 2010 Contents 14 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
The Australian Defence Force is always in a perpetual state of training, with three major exercises
showcasing the expertise, in particular the Royal Australian Air Force, while the Navy and Army
also played supporting roles.
its weight By Flight Lieutenant Skye Smith
Thunder struck the Top End skies as 11 F/A-18
Hornets from 77 Squadron lit up the airspace for
Exercise Arnhem Thunder October.
77SQN conducted advanced air-to-ground combat
training at Bradshaw Field Training area and
Delamere Air Weapons Ranges during the three-
week bombing camp.
Arnhem Thunder saw the Hornets conduct four-
ship attacks and self-escort strike missions while
focusing on Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)
The JDAM is a guidance kit, that when fitted,
converts unguided bombs, or ‘dumb’ bombs, into
precision ‘smart’ munitions. JDAM-equipped bombs
are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system
coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS)
receiver, giving the RAAF the capability to accurately
attack a ground target in any weather conditions.
“It gives us the opportunity to conduct end-to-end
testing of our ability to deploy and operate the
squadron safely and effectively whilst launching
aircraft into a simulated combat scenario using
actual High Explosives,” Executive Officer, Squadron
Leader Grant Burr said.
The Hornets employed a range of weapons,
including JDAM, laser-guided weapons,
conventional ‘dumb’ weapons and 20mm rounds
during the exercise.
The squadron’s flying operations relied on support
from 87SQN, 3CRU, Pelair services and of course
RAAF Base Tindal support units.
“For aircrew, the biggest difference operating in
Tindal compared to Williamtown is access to the
world class weapons ranges and airspace and the
training benefit derived from that access,” SQNLDR
Arnhem Thunder also allowed 77SQN to test the
logistics system to resupply spares as well as deploy
148 personnel and equipment.
77SQN last participated in Arnhem Thunder in 2009,
although the exercise is generally only conducted
every two years.
F/A-18 Hornets integrated with the Armed
Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tiger for the
first time involving live ordnance when 75SQN
participated in the Army’s most complex training
activity, Exercise Hamel, designed to practice the
Army in foundation war fighting skills.
75SQN contributed seven Hornets and 100
personnel to the battle order, which included B-52,
C-17 and C-130 support, Army’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd
Battalion, Tigers, Black Hawks, US Marines and
The first week saw 75SQN integrate with an ARH
Tiger as a Joint Air Attack Team (JAAT). This is
a new concept for the ADF, but well established
in the US, according to B Flight Commander,
Squadron Leader James Atkinson.
“The JAAT works similar to SCAR (Scout and
Armed Reconnaissance) role, but with closer
integration to ensure weapon/target matching and
one DMPI per weapon,” he said.
The Hornets also conducted day and night flying
to support the Special Operations Tactical Group
(SOTG) mission rehearsal exercises (MRE) for
2 Command, which assisted the Joint Terminal
Attack Controllers work-up for their next overseas
75SQN aircrew worked towards a goal of getting
bombs on target, on time, every time in support of
the ground effort, with the primary focus being to
support Army to the greatest extent possible for
their most significant exercise of the year.
The second week involved 75SQN providing
support to regular Army with traditional and non-
traditional intelligence, surveillance and response
“Whilst this part of the exercise was ‘dry’ for
75SQN with no live weapons released, it gave
us an opportunity to grease the skids of the
information flow process,” SQNLDR Atkinson said.
“It was also good for our aircrew to participate in
a dynamic ground war, where we were required to
utilise on-board sensors in non-traditional ways to
find non-descript military pieces, camouflaged or
other, in known and unknown locations”.
The exercise was complex from an overarching
perspective and involved significant integration
between the various forces.
“There were a lot of co-ordinating units involved
with multiple forms of air during the exercise, but
the complex airspace was well managed by Joint
Airspace Control Cell,” SQNLDR Atkinson.
75SQN was mainly involved in integrated missions
with the Tiger and ground liaison during the final
weeks of Hamel.
“We also had a pilot in the tactical air control party
(TACP) and two junior aircrew working alongside
JOC in the Air Operations Centre (AOC) producing
air tasking orders and airspace control orders,”
SQNLDR Atkinson said.
“Those three guys worked extremely hard and
without their efforts things would have been far
less effective. This is a key factor in improving our
integration with Army.”
75SQN benefitted from the JAAT and MRE
scenarios, which SQNLDR Atkinson describes as
similar to normal close air support work-up.
The ADF support squadron role rotates through
75SQN, 77SQN and 3SQN during the year. With
3SQN in Malaysia for Exercise Bersama Padu and
LefT: Executive Officer of RMAF 18 Squadron, Lieutenant Colonel Wan Amin Hafiz Bin Wan Mahmud, and Commanding Officer No 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Terry van Haren, in front
of their jets during Exercise Bersama Padu 2010. Photo: Corporal David Gibbs cenTRe: The Five Powers Rifle Company practice a dawn beach landings from HMAS Tobruk’s landing craft
at Tioman Island, Malaysia during Exercise Bersama Padu 2010. Photo: Sergeant Chris Weissenborn RIgHT: Corporal John Bowring, a Ground Support Engineering supervisor from No 22
Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond, performs a specific gravity test on a fuel sample in the Fuel Quality Control lab during Exercise Bersama Padu 2010. Photo: Corporal David Gibbs
BacKgROunD: Troops from 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment parachute from a Royal Australian
Air Force C-17 Globemaster at Charters Towers during Exercise Hamel. Photo: Corporal Hamish Paterson
BeLOW: No 3 Squadron F/A-18 Hornets form up on their way to Malaysia for Exercise
Bersama Padu 2010. Photo: Flying Officer Anthony Yelland
77SQN in Tindal for Arnhem Thunder, 75SQN took
up the lion’s share for Hamel.
Exercise Hamel 2010 is designed to enhance the
ADF’s ability to fight and operate in a modern,
complex battlespace involving 6000 personnel from
all three services.
eXeRcIse BeRsaMa PaDu
Sixty-six aircraft, 14 ships and 3000 personnel from
the nations of the Five Power Defence Arrangements
(FPDA) have come together on the Malaysian
peninsula and the South China Sea for this year’s
Exercise Bersama Padu.
Bersama Padu, which means ‘together united’
in Bahasa Malaysia, continues to build the close
working relationship between the participating
nations of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New
Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Talks began in 1968 between the participating nations
and on 1 November 1971 the FPDA was formed. Next
year will mark the 40th anniversary of this significant
The FPDA provides for defence co-operation and
for an Integrated Area Defence System (IADS)
for Malaysia and Singapore, which is based at
the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth
under the command of Australia’s Air Vice-Marshal
Since the FPDA’s formation, the scope of its
activities has expanded from air defence to the
development of joint capabilities, which has
helped to develop greater interoperability among
The relevance of Exercise Bersama Padu is displayed
in the inclusion of a land integration component
for the first time this year, with both Australian
and Malaysian armed forces participating. This
component provides yet another complex dimension
to the modern exercise battlespace.
The exercise also provides a great platform for the
F/A-18 Hornets to display their air power mastery
Bersama Padu is one of the regular training
activities 3SQN undertakes. This year there are eight
F/A-18 Hornets and about 125 personnel deployed in
support of the squadron.
3SQN gets a lot of benefit out of exercises such as
the Bersama series according to its commanding
officer, Wing Commander Terry van Haren.
“It’s an exercise where we operate out of South
East Asia, which is a different environment for us
plus it is an exercise where we can operate with our
“The Hornets have been flying a number of missions
including offensive counter air, and maritime and land
interdiction during the three-week exercise, along
with Malaysian F/A-18D Hornets and MiG-29s.
“We are flying out of Butterworth over the eastern
side of Malaysia and engaging ships over the South
China Sea. We also expect to intercept ‘enemy’
aircraft and conduct air combat training with the
other nations,” WGCDR van Haren said.
“Exercises such as this provide vital training to
all elements involved in supporting a large-scale
deployment outside of Australia. From logistics,
administration, communications, air traffic and
maintenance everyone has an important part to play
in the success of our mission objectives.”
The aircrew also benefit from flying in a new
environment, with mountains and inclement
weather to overcome, as well as the interaction
with other services and nations.
3SQN has a long and proud history with RMAF
Butterworth. The squadron was based there for
about 30 continuous years from the 1950s through
to the early 1980s.
More than 1000 Australian personnel deployed in
support of Exercise Bersama Padu.
HMA Ships Success, Tobruk, Toowoomba and
Arunta; Australian Clearance Dive Team One from
HMAS Waterhen Sydney; and an Australian Army
platoon from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)
Base Butterworth also participated in the exercise
that finished on 29 October.
Links Archive Issue 1 2011 Issue 7 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page