F-35 – lucky they’re on our side

Air Force’s F-35A Lighting II fighter is one of the most advanced and precise aircraft in operation. Luckily for the crews of Australian guided-missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane and United States destroyer USS Rafael Peralta, the F-35A fighters were on their side, providing air security as part of a combined air-maritime exercise on Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21).

CAPTION: Officer of the watch Sub-Lieutenant Lucas Menenti looks out from HMAS Brisbane’s bridge wing during an air-warfare serial off the coast of Queensland on Exercise Talisman Sabre. Story by Lieutenant Sarah Rohwede. Photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.

Together, the destroyers and a number of aircraft with unique capabilities were able to fight off a fictitious adversary, putting years of collective training and professionalism to the test.

The training serial aimed to enhance interoperability between the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Navy.

Brisbane’s principal warfare officer – air warfare, Lieutenant Matt Stobo, coordinated the attack and defence of the two destroyers through their combined sensor and weapons systems as part of the serial.

Lieutenant Stobo said such interoperability training kept the operators’ skills sharp.

“It was an excellent opportunity for integration with Navy, RAAF and the US Navy, allowing us to better train our ship’s company and personnel,” he said.

“Cooperation is vital to the success of our Defence operations across the air, surface and subsurface domains.

“Effective integration increases our ability to defend against presented threats.”

CAPTION: An Air Force F-35A Lightning II approaches HMAS Brisbane during an air-warfare serial off the coast of Queensland on Exercise Talisman Sabre. Photo by Leading Seaman Daniel Goodman.

The Combat Information Centre, home to Brisbane’s specialists in air and anti-surface warfare, as well as fire and air control, and radar systems, was key to the exercise.

Among the sailors in the room was Brisbane’s combat systems operator – above water, Leading Seaman Jeziel Mann, whose role during the air-warfare serial was to keep his eyes on the surface-radar picture and enable information to be shared between allied ships to stay ahead of the fight.

“The serial overall was well-executed and a first for me,” Leading Seaman Mann said.

“We had a RAAF fighter controller on board who liaised with the fighters and provided key training debrief points.

“We also maintained a communication circuit with the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft to liaise about the tactical data link picture.

“It was good to see the implementation of fighter controllers in a fast-paced serial.”

Brisbane is the Air and Missile Defence Commander on TS21, responsible for defending the multinational task group from enemy aircraft and missiles.

She is also providing significant air-control services to deconflict aircraft movements within the exercise area.





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