Her Majesty’s Australian Ships Brisbane and Melbourne have successfully integrated into Exercise DIAMOND SHIELD, the Royal Australian Air Force’s Tier 1 air defence activity.
Operating off the coast of Newcastle, Brisbane embarked three Fighter Controllers from the Fleet Fighter Control Element, based at RAAF Williamtown.
Throughout the exercise, Brisbane and Melbourne contributed to high-end air warfare activities which tested the crew and greatly expanded collective understanding of complex warfighting scenarios.
Fighter Controllers had the opportunity to control a range of assets including F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, with up to 30 assets airborne at any one time.
Brisbane’s participation in DIAMOND SHIELD formed part of her Deployment Readiness work up as she prepares to conduct weapon firing and certifications in the United States later this year.
The large number of live air assets provided a number of challenges for the operations and sensors teams that far exceeds what can be generated in the maritime exercise areas in vicinity of Jervis Bay.
Further integration of the Royal Australian Navy’s new destroyers into complex air environments will be a critical pathway to realising the full potential of the Hobart Class in the future.
A highlight of the exercise saw the most modern and advanced Air Warfare platform in the Royal Australian Navy integrate and operate with Australia’s new fifth generation fighter, the F-35A Lightning II.
Fighter Controller, Lieutenant Kyle Livingstone said DIAMOND SHIELD was a great opportunity to prove the capability of the Navy’s new destroyers in a complex environment with the most modern and advanced platforms in the Air Force.
“Exercise DIAMOND SHIELD showcased what’s possible when combining the lethality and advanced capability of the Navy’s Air Warfare Destroyers with fifth generation fighter aircraft,” he said.
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Brisbane, Commander Josh Wilson said DIAMOND SHIELD provided the perfect opportunity for the Australian Defence Force to achieve a significant capability milestone.
“Achieving the first integration of the Destroyer capability with the Fifth Generation Joint Strike Fighter is of particular significance.
“The opportunity to integrate cutting edge air and maritime assets in a high end warfighting scenario is rare and proved an invaluable experience for the Brisbane team,” Commander Wilson said.
The Fleet Fighter Control Element seamlessly integrated into the Brisbane operations room team, demonstrating the ease with which Fighter Controllers contribute to high-end warfighting activities.
The Fleet Fighter Control Element is based at RAAF Williamtown and is a lodger unit within 3 Control and Reporting Unit.
Navy Fighter Controllers are Maritime Warfare Officers and serve at sea as Officers’ of the Watch prior to sub-specialising in air battle management.