The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the US Air Force (USAF) have completed training during this year’s Exercise Lightning Focus.
This exercise saw up to 28 F/A-18 Hornets and other aircraft from RAAF Base Amberley and Williamtown training alongside the USAF’s Pacific Air Force two B-52 Stratofortress bombers operating from Darwin.
Integrated training between the two airforces is a crucial activity in strengthening the combined military capability of both nations.
Air Combat Group commander air commodore Mike Kitcher said: “Exercises such as Lightning Focus give our aircrew experience flying in a busy airspace with multiple fast-jet aircraft.
“Conducting these flying activities with our US partners is critical to our ongoing regional partnerships and provides specific currency and qualification training for RAAF aircrew.”
The participation of USAF’s Pacific Air Force B-52 bombers in this exercise is part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) initiative.
Started in February 2017, EAC aims to increase interoperability between Australian and US airforces and bolster bilateral cooperation through flying activities.
Pacific Air Force liaison officer group captain Stewart Dowrie said: “Eight activities have already occurred under EAC in 2018, including aero-medical evacuation training missions, fifth-generation fighter integration with our E-7 Wedgetail aircraft, combat mobility activities with the US Marine Corps MV-22, integrated aircraft maintenance on the C-130J aircraft, and expanding the air-to-air refuelling capabilities of our KC-30A.
“This particular activity with the B-52 aircraft participating in Exercise Lightning Focus continues to enhance our personnel, platforms and readiness.”
This year’s EAC activities focused on air interoperability, platform integration and combined air responses.
Exercise Lightning Focus commenced in late November and concluded last week.