Exercise Tasman Shield – a major training event that tested the ability of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to work together on integrated missions – concluded off the east coast of Australia on April 3.
The exercise – which was held at various locations across Australia from March 17 to April 3 – saw the two military services conduct a number of simulated air-maritime integration missions in a bid to develop and validate new tactics, techniques and procedures when operating as a joint force. A variety of RAAF aircraft operating from RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland; RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia; and RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, worked closely with the RAN-operated Hobart-class air warfare destroyers, HMAS Hobart (DDG-39) and HMAS Sydney (DDG-42) to enhance interoperability between the two services.
A variety of RAAF aircraft participated in Tasman Shield, including F-35A Lightning II and F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters; EA-18G Growler electronic attack (EA) jets; E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft; P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA); KC-30A (A330-203MRTT) tanker-transports; and Hawk Mk.127 LIF lead-in fighter trainers. The RAAF’s No 3 Control and Reporting Unit – a surveillance and air battle management squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown – also took part in the exercise.
Commenting on the importance of the exercise and how it fostered a vital opportunity for the RAAF and RAN to enhance their joint effectiveness, Air Cdre Peter Robinson – the RAAF’s Commander Air Combat Group and the officer leading the exercise – said: “Exercise Tasman Shield 23 provided both complex and realistic scenarios in order to challenge and develop understanding of air-maritime integration.
“The involvement of the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Hobart and [HMAS] Sydney were critical for developing and validating air-maritime integrated tactics, techniques and procedures. The complexity of the flying was an excellent opportunity for our people to further develop their skills in providing airpower as part of the joint force – [which is] critical to our Air Force mission,” he added.