The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has deployed its aircraft and personnel to conduct close air support training with Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

The training will take place as part of the exercise Raven Kahu, which is being conducted from 8 to 19 August in New Zealand.

As part of the two-week-long exercise, the RAAF has deployed its PC-21 Pilatus aircraft from the No. 4 Squadron based at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales.

This marks the first time the RAAF has deployed its PC-21 advanced pilot training aircraft to take part in an international activity.

With this exercise, the RNZAF aims to enhance its joint terminal attack control (JTAC) and forward air control (airborne) capabilities. Both the training capabilities are offered by the RAAF’s PC-21 aircraft.

RAAF No 4 Squadron Commanding Officer wing commander Sean Jobson said: “A detachment from No. 4 Squadron will be deploying to RNZAF Base Ohakea for the exercise.

“No 4 Squadron will conduct close air support training for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) JTACs, supported by up to four RAAF PC-21 aircraft and two JTAC instructors.

“Deployments are a regular part of Australian Defence Forces (ADF) operations, but training with our New Zealand partners demonstrates the longstanding relationship and ability to operate together as a joint force.”

According to the RAAF, such international deployments are crucial for maintaining operational currency, preparedness and proficiency objectives.

The Pilatus training aircraft allows more people to train faster and to a higher standard by providing a simulated and electronic learning environment. 

In addition, the aircraft can maintain low-level speeds of more than 320k and has a digital power management system, making it suitable for a variety of training.