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Exercise Diamond Shield begins at RAAF Base Williamtown

Australia’s version of ‘Top Gun’ has kicked off, with biennial air warfare instructor course Exercise Diamond Shield beginning at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Around 80 aircraft will take part in the three-week exercise, including Super Hornets, Growlers and E-7s, as well as a US Air Force squadron of F-16s flying in from Alaska to act as hostile parties.

"They'll use their own tactics and fly as the bad guys," Exercise Director Group Captain Matthew McCormack said.

"We don’t know what they will do."

This will be the third stage of the overall six-month course, and requires students to develop defensive strategies against the American 18th Aggressors Squadron.

"The idea is you take an expert on one single platform and educate them about all the other platforms and how to utilise them best together," GPCAPT McCormack said.

"It would equate to the US Navy’s Top Gun or the US Air Force weapon instructor course."

Aircraft will mainly be active from 18 March, according to Commanding Officer of Williamtown's 88 Squadron, Wing Commander Tim Main.

"We recently completed Exercise Diamond Seas out at Pearce in Western Australia, that had a maritime focus. And this exercise here, now, has a defensive counter air focus," WCGDR Main said.

"The exercise will be conducted over the water off the coast here in Newcastle. The 18th Aggressors will perform the role of 'red air' so when all the aircraft are getting airborne the Aggressors will fly against our 'blue' students."

Exercise Diamond Shield begins at RAAF Base Williamtown
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