Talisman Sabre ramping up in the sky

Australia’s largest bilateral military exercise has put thousands of boots on Townsville ground, but up in the skies above Castle Hill, military aircraft operations are ramping up too.

CAPTION: Air traffic controller Flight Lieutenant Amy Tinto, from No. 452 Squadron, in front of the air traffic control tower at RAAF Base Townsville during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. Story by Flight Lieutenant Chloe Stevenson. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Emma Schwenke.

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 has seen a significant increase in military aircraft transiting through RAAF Base Townsville, with more expected in the coming weeks.

Flight Lieutenant Amy Tinto is an air traffic controller from No. 452 Squadron, the unit that coordinates all aircraft coming in and out of the Townsville aerodrome.

“For Talisman Sabre, Townsville air traffic control will provide the air base traffic services for the foreign military aircraft and the Australian aircraft, which are based out of the Townsville aerodrome,” Flight Lieutenant Tinto said.

“So when they are in the vicinity of the Townsville aerodrome we will provide a control service to them to keep them safe and we will provide any emergency assistance for them as they come out of the Talisman Sabre airspace.

“We usually provide air traffic control services 16 hours a day, seven days a week at Townsville.

“For Exercise Talisman Sabre though, we will have significantly more aircraft based here and so we will run day and night flying windows to ensure we can support this exercise, as well as the civilian traffic that we also have coming out of Townsville.

“As an air traffic controller, Exercise Talisman Sabre is a really good opportunity to develop our skills and see some more flexible platforms than we normally see.

“At Townsville, we normally have a lot of civil traffic and some military traffic. During Talisman Sabre, it will be the reverse.”

Flight Lieutenant Tinto said she and her fellow controllers were excited for the challenge of working with different aircraft.

“I am really excited for Talisman Sabre as our team has been working tirelessly getting all our procedures done, ready to control for this exercise,” she said.

“This is what we’re here for in the Air Force and we are really excited to launch into it later in the week.”

Exercise Talisman Sabre provides an opportunity for military aircrew to test interoperability with other foreign militaries and combat readiness in the form of high-end, air-power missions.

This includes air superiority, offensive counter air, tactical airlift, aerial refuelling and airborne command and control, all of which strengthen Australia’s ability to deliver regional security, peace and stability.

The ADF appreciates the support of the local Townsville community for this essential Defence training.

The ADF protects Australia’s interests, and its ability to respond quickly is a result of our high training standards in these large, complex activities.

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