More personnel qualify for Wedgetail

No. 2 Squadron has more co-pilots and aircrew after a group graduated from the E-7A Wedgetail operational conversion course conducted as part of Exercise Rogue Ambush.

CAPTION: E-7A Wedgetail aircraft A30-006, from No. 2 Squadron, takes off from RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Rogue Ambush. Story by Flying Officer Bronwyn Marchant. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Adam Abela.

The exercise, held from June 15 to July 2, was the final phase of the course.

It exposed the No. 2 Squadron students, operating out of RAAF Base Darwin, to complex battlespace environments and allowed them to become familiar with monitoring and controlling a range of different aircraft types and missions.

Air Battle Manager Instructor Flight Lieutenant Brodie Jones said the exercise supported the continuation of E-7A operations and the continual growth of qualified crew.

“No. 2 Squadron operationally converted eight air battle managers, two electronic support measures operators and three co-pilots onto the E-7A Wedgetail,” Flight Lieutenant Jones said.

“The training environment during Rogue Ambush closely replicated that of a real-life operational mission involving multiple platforms and packages, enabling us to graduate operationally capable co-pilots and mission aircrew.

“The crew are now qualified and ready to conduct battlespace management, surveillance operations and fly one of the world’s most capable airborne early warning and control platforms.”

Flight Lieutenant Jones spoke of the significance of training with other squadrons and exposing them to integrated mission planning with the F-35A pilots.

“Operating under the complexity of military flying operations with multiple platforms is the most challenging part of operational conversion for the students,” Flight Lieutenant Jones said.

“Decisions while airborne can be critical, so it is important to expose students to real-life stresses in the training environment to ensure they are best prepared to make safe decisions while they are flying without an instructor’s oversight.

“Incorporating junior air battle managers into the F-35A mission planning process has been greatly beneficial to 2 Squadron aircrew who will continue to plan alongside their counterparts in the future.”

Rogue Ambush was completed in conjunction with No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit F-35A fighter pilots who completed the first operational conversion course for the F-35A.

Flight Lieutenant Jones said he was thrilled to see the students graduate.

“Being able to conduct the conversion culmination exercise in Darwin in conjunction with the first F-35A operational conversion course has been a great experience,” he said.

“This was the first operational conversion I had been a part of as an instructor and a lot of work has gone into getting the students to this point.

“It was extremely rewarding to see the students graduating as qualified aircrew and become part of the crew I will fly alongside for the years to come.”

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