The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) personnel have been assigned to Kingpin, a control agency managed by the US Air Force’s (USAF) 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron that is providing airspace control for air campaigns against ISIS.
The US-led unit also comprises of personnel from the UK Royal Air Force.
The agency operates from Australia’s main air operating base in the Middle East region and it has a constant live picture of the airspace over Iraq and Syria, the Gulf, and Afghanistan.
It uses ground-based radars, air traffic control systems, and networked surveillance platforms like Australia’s own E-7A Wedgetail to alert crews about traffic, threats, and weather.
Coalition aircrew, including Australia’s Air Task Group 630, depends on Kingpin for battlespace control and management.
With this awareness, the aircraft are able to support Iraqi Security Forces in reclaiming their territory from ISIS terrorists, the Australian Department of Defence said in a statement.
Kingpin current Australian rotation Detachment commander Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) N said there could be 'upwards of 60 Coalition aircraft being managed at a time'.
SQNLDR N said: “The aircraft all have different capabilities and requirements, are departing from different airfields, with differing approvals for where and how they can operate.
“Kingpin is providing crews in theatre with airspace clearances, safe transit instructions, mission changes, fuel changes, and drawing their attention to traffic, threats, and weather.
“There’s also requirement for us to coordinate de-confliction of restricted operating zones, task instructions for targeting, and other mission critical information.”
Kingpin will ensure aircraft like unmanned aerial vehicles remain clear when strike aircraft are delivering munitions in support of Iraqi Security Forces, the statement said.
Additionally, the agency keeps Coalition aircrew aware of civilian airliners or other regional forces, and ensures they do not cross restricted airspace or national borders.
Image: RAAF personnel assigned to Kingpin control agency. Photo: courtesy of Australian Department of Defence.