The 1st Aviation Regiment deployed a squadron of Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tigers to California in August and September to work alongside their US Marine Corps (USMC) counterparts.
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Exercise Griffin Eagle also provided the Australians with an opportunity to further develop their attack and reconnaissance aviation capability through training and interoperability activities.
A range of previous pilot exchange programs meant there was an established relationship with the USMC that could be built upon by the visiting squadron, according to the Officer Commanding Task Unit Marlin Major Jason Perrins.
“A few years ago, I flew Cobra helicopters on the US West Coast as part of the exchange program," MAJ Perrins said.
“In recent years, close relationships have also been formed with the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during combined exercises in Australia.
“Being able to complete a number of training qualification activities with the USMC was a key outcome of the deployment."
MAJ Perrins added that the ARH Tiger performed well in the desert conditions.
“The hot and dusty conditions were similar to the ones we experience in Darwin,” he said.
“The surrounding mountains also provided an awesome backdrop for the high-altitude flying training.”
According to Captain Jack Herrod, the exercise tested logistics processes.
“Normally, there are some elements of the supply chain that are already established,” he said.
“Distance, a limited supply chain and available space to take equipment were key considerations in the planning to support the aircraft and personnel."
Sustaining an exercise in the US was a major achievement, according to Major Timothy Byrne, of the 16th Aviation Brigade.
“Exercise Griffin Eagle was an excellent opportunity to deploy and sustain a complex aviation capability in an austere environment," MAJ Byrne concluded.
“Working closely with joint agencies and our industry partners, the 1st Aviation Regiment maintained consistent online aircraft including live-fire activities.
“The lessons learnt from this exercise will enhance our ability to provide safe, effective and sustainable aviation to the joint force."