The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed six F/A-18F Super Hornets and a C-27J Spartan transport aircraft to north-west Malaysia in support of Exercise Bersama Lima.
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Aircraft and 1 Squadron personnel were deployed to Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth for the combined Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom exercises.
The two-seater F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighter aircraft are used for air interception, air combat, close air support of ground troops, and interception of enemy supply lines including shipping.
Each Super Hornet can be armed with AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM), AIM-9X “Sidewinder” short range air-to-air missile, joint direct attack munitions, conventional and laser-guided bombs, AGM-154 joint stand-off weapons, AGM-84 harpoon anti-ship missiles, and an M61A2 20mm nose-mounted gun system.
The two-week exercise gathers more than 400 Australian Defence Force troops, the Hobart Class guided-missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane, Australian Army infantry, and the RAAF aircraft.
F/A-18F Super Hornet pilot Flight Lieutenant Russel said the integration between the five nations has involved everything from air planning and working with Malaysian mission controllers to flying mixed formations with various fast-jet aircraft.
“We’ve been exercising an air component defence off the Malaysian Peninsula, including down to Singapore,” FLTLT Russel said.
“We’ve been working closely with the maritime capabilities of the five nations to identify simulated threats to either maritime assets or Malaysian land targets.
“When an aircraft is detected, we proceed to intercept, identify, and engage those targets as a combined force, which is a great opportunity for us to train with our partners.
“Our technical and maintenance staff work around the clock to make sure the aircraft are good to go for each mission.
“We’re also really fortunate to operate out of RMAF Butterworth, which has strong ties to the RAAF. We’ve got the support of 19 Squadron based here, which has made our deployment run really smoothly.
“Working to become familiar operating away from our main bases is huge. Getting the experience of flying in Southeast Asia, including the weather here, is really important.
“When you get people coming from all over the world to a location that’s unfamiliar to them, working with the locals here to learn the best way to get the mission done has been fantastic for all the nations.”
The Super Hornet is also fitted with mission computers, heads-up displays, radar and infrared sensing, and targeting equipment as well as electronic warfare and infra-red self-protection systems.