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RAAF sharpens air combat claws with support of US Raptors

The Royal Australian Air Force has kicked off a range of fifth-generation integration training operations, flying alongside US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter aircraft on Thursday as part of an Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) activity for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019.

The aim of Enhanced Air Cooperation is to strengthen the ability of Australia and the US to work together as well as regional partners, in the interests of regional stability and security.

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Group Captain Stephen Chappell, Commander of the Amberley based Australian-US task unit for the exercise, said training with the stealth fighter aircraft honed Australian fifth-generation integration and provided valuable training.

"Talisman Sabre builds on the regular exercises we do at Amberley, in the United States and the key training programs and exchanges with USAF and US Navy that we use to develop our tactics, techniques and procedures," GPCAPT Chappell said.

"Integration with the fifth-generation platforms like F-22 and F-35 are key to how we will do our job both now and in the future. We train with Raptors annually, and this is a continuation of the journey and the ongoing pursuit and maintenance of full air combat integration."

The USAF deployed the F-22 Raptor from 90th Fighter Squadron, E-3C Sentry from the 962nd AACS, KC-10 Extender from the 6th Air Refuelling Squadron, and B-52 Stratofortress from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron to support Talisman Sabre from 10-24 July 2019. 

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GPCAPT Chappell added, "For Talisman Sabre, we will be focusing on how we operate and train on our F/A-18 Classic Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and E-7A Wedgetail in the same theatre as this advanced F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet."

Colonel Barley Baldwin, Amberley USAF Group Commander, 13th Expeditionary Air Force said his personnel were looking forward to the opportunity to exercise in Australia. 

COL Baldwin said, "I am excited for the 90th Fighter Squadron to return to Queensland where the squadron first established its long-term relationship in with the Australians in 1942. Exercises and training opportunities like Talisman Sabre 19 foster stronger relationships and increase interoperability with our Australian allies, as well as enable our aircrew and support personnel to become familiar with conducting operations out of Royal Australian air bases."

EAC activities commenced in February 2017, adding an extra dimension to the initiatives in Australia. The EAC initiative aims to strengthen bilateral collaboration and enhance interoperability through increased participation of US air elements, including fifth-generation strike fighters and strategic bombers in a range of training activities and exercises with the ADF.

"During Talisman Sabre 2019, RAAF and USAF Airmen will train for high-end, modern combat as we continue to build upon our 70-plus year relationship," COL Baldwin added. 

While flying activities are the most traditional and visible demonstration of air co-operation, EAC is not just about aircraft. EAC activities have several lines of effort including joint and combined warfighting effects, operational manoeuvre, integrating enabling capabilities, and strategic logistics.

EAC provides Australia and the US with the opportunity to extend combined technical skills and logistics training and will enhance RAAF’S transition to a fifth generation Air Force by introducing fifth-generation operations and requirements to RAAF bases.

RAAF sharpens air combat claws with support of US Raptors
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