Exercise Black Dagger is the culmination of Number 56 Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) course designed to produce combat-ready JTAC-qualified personnel.
Main: No. 4 Squadron PC-9 prepares to launch from RAAF Base Townsville. Photo by Corporal Glen McCarthy
Right: US Navy VFA-115 launches an F/A-18E Super Hornet from RAAF Base Townsville during Exercise Black Dagger. Photo by Corporal Glen McCarthy
Below: Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from No 4 Sqn watch as a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet conducts a ‘show-of-force’ flypast at Townsville Field Training Area. Photo by Sergeant Guy Young
Exercise Black Dagger is a field training exercise held at RAAF Base Townsville and surrounding airspace over the period 01-15 April 2016 with aircraft and personnel from Number 4 Squadron supported by aircraft and personnel from the United States Navy.
Exercise Black Dagger is the live-fire component and final phase of training on the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers’ (JTAC) Course.
On graduating, fully qualified JTACs receive a permanent ‘Dagger’ call-sign, signifying their combat-ready status.
On operations, JTACs embed with ground-combat troops and direct precision air strikes against hostile targets.
JTAC is a US Air Force term and concept and qualifications for JTAC must be accredited by the USAF.
Once qualified, an accredited Australian JTAC can then be employed on the battlefield and can call in US Air Force and other coalition assets.
The RAAF became the first foreign air force to receive Joint Terminal Attack Controller accreditation from the US Joint Forces Command in 2006.
No 4 SQN RAAF runs JTAC training, and provides trained controllers to other units, with its main role being to support Special Operations Command.
CONTACT Air Land & Sea issue #50, published on 1 June 2016, will feature a story on Artillery Observer, Joint Fires Observer and JTAC – comparing the similarities and differences, and the employment paths to each.