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Air Force wraps up in Top End skies

More than 2,000 personnel, 100 aircraft and the next generation of Air Force Air Warfare Instructors have returned to their home bases after being tested to the limit during Exercise Diamond Storm in the Northern Territory.

The exercise is the final stage of an intensive three-phase Air Warfare Instructor Course that assesses candidates in academic and practical activities spanning six months.

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Exercise Director, Group Captain Matt McCormack, said a strong cadre of personnel capable of integrating warfighting functions across a range of specialisations will graduate.

"It has been a very busy month at RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindal as we reach the conclusion of this specialist course that has tested the candidates in a range of high-end warfighting scenarios," GPCAPT McCormack said. 

The Air Warfare Instructor Course began at RAAF Base Pearce in January 2019 with Diamond Seas, a maritime-focused scenario with Navy and Army elements; before moving into Diamond Shield, a defensive counter-air exercise conducted from RAAF Bases Amberley and Williamtown. 

"Diamond Storm has seen course members plan and execute offensive counter-air scenarios using just about every aircraft in our Air Force, as well as some from the United States Air Force and United States Marine Corps, and a range of specialist ground-based enablers and Royal Air Force capabilities," GPCAPT McCormack added. 

The US Air Force deployed F-15C Eagle and B-52H Stratofortress Bomber while the US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey, and AH-1Z Viper from the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, also participated.

The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed the F/A-18A Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, Hawk 127, AP-3C Orion, P-8A Poseidon, C-17A Globemaster, KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport, E-7A Wedgetail and C-130J Hercules.

Supporting the aircraft was a range of ground-based surveillance and reconnaissance, Air Warfare Centre and Combat Support Group capabilities and personnel.

Group Captain McCormack said, "As instructors, the course graduates will be required to operate in a range of environments, cooperating with other Defence units and international forces to accomplish their objectives."

Exercise Diamond Storm formally concludes with the return of all personnel and aircraft to RAAF Base Williamtown on 31 May for a 'Dawn Strike' off the coast of Newcastle.

'Dawn Strike' will see fast jet aircraft and ‘big wing’ aircraft land at Williamtown before graduates receive their patches during an official ceremony.

Air Force wraps up in Top End skies
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