US special forces Hercs flying from Richmond

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Communities in regional New South Wales may notice an increase in flying activity in September with a contingent of 110 United States Air Force personnel visiting for Exercise Teak Action.

FILE PHOTOC-130 Hercules tactical formation flying in Australia. ADF photo.

Held out of RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney’s north-west, Exercise Teak Action will run from 7-26 September 2018 and involve four MC-130J Commando II aircraft – a variant of the Hercules transport aircraft that has been optimised for special-forces support.

The USAF contingent is from the 353rd Special Operations Group, travelling to Australia from its home at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.

Senior Australian Defence Force Officer for RAAF Base Richmond Air Commodore Bill Kourelakos said Exercise Teak Action would see the Americans team up with their Australian counterparts from the RAAF’s No. 37 Squadron.

“For communities, the flying activity will be similar to that conducted by RAAF Hercules when training at regional airfields across New South Wales,” .

“That includes day- and night-time missions, practicing low-level flying skills away from built-up areas, delivering cargo and paratroopers to drop zones, and formation flying.

“Back at RAAF Base Richmond, both countries will also conduct a series of briefs and exchanges of information.”

Flying is expected to be centred on RAAF Base Richmond and the western-Sydney and Blue Mountains areas, with missions to Walcha, Lake Cargelligo, Gilgandra, Warren, and Albury.

Air Commodore Kourelakos said that because of the dynamic nature of the flying, Air Force could not provide advance notice of flying times and routes for Exercise Teak Action.

“Over the past few years, the RAAF’s No. 37 Squadron has built a close relationship with the 353rd Special Operations Group, which has included reciprocal visits to each other’s bases.

“Our Hercules crews train to deliver people and cargo in the toughest environments on earth, and this close relationship helps us to be prepared for that mission,” Air Commodore Kourelakos said.

“In the past 15 years, our Hercules crews have sustained Defence operations in the Middle East Region, and historically when we’ve evacuated civilians and Defence personnel during times of crisis.

“The exchange of ideas and experience during Exercise Teak Action will benefit RAAF crews when planning and conducting air mobility operations in the future.”

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Brian Hartigan

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