The 1st Aviation Regiment has spread it wings over the Arizona desert, having deployed a squadron of Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tigers to California, USA, in August and September to work alongside their US Marine Corps (USMC) counterparts.
CAPTION: Australian Army Ground Crew Aircraft Support personnel, of the 1st Aviation Regiment, re-arm ARH Tigers at a US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion air deployed ground refuel point, during Exercise Griffin Eagle. Story by Captain Carolyn Barnett. Photo by Captain Gavin Partridge.
Exercise Griffin Eagle also provided the Australians with an opportunity to further develop their attack and reconnaissance aviation capability through training and interoperability activities.
The Officer Commanding Task Unit Marlin Major Jason Perrins said a range of previous pilot exchange programs meant there was an established relationship with the USMC that could be built upon by the visiting squadron.
“A few years ago, I flew Cobra helicopters on the US West Coast as part of the exchange program,” Major Perrins said.
CAPTION: A United States Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper, hover taxis in front of two Australian Army ARH Tigers from the 1st Aviation Regiment at Yuma, during Exercise Griffin Eagle at Arizona, USA. Photo by Captain Gavin Partridge.
“In recent years, close relationships have also been formed with the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during combined exercises in Australia.
“Being able to complete a number of training qualification activities with the USMC was a key outcome of the deployment.”
Major Perrins said the ARH Tiger performed well in the desert conditions.
“The hot and dusty conditions were similar to the ones we experience in Darwin,” Major Perrins said.
“The surrounding mountains also provided an awesome backdrop for the high-altitude flying training.”
Captain Jack Herrod said the exercise tested logistics processes.
“Normally, there are some elements of the supply chain that are already established,” Captain Herrod said.
“Distance, a limited supply chain and available space to take equipment were key considerations in the planning to support the aircraft and personnel.”
Major Timothy Byrne, of the 16th Aviation Brigade, said sustaining an exercise in the US was a major achievement.
“Exercise Griffin Eagle was an excellent opportunity to deploy and sustain a complex aviation capability in an austere environment,” Major Byrne said.
“Working closely with joint agencies and our industry partners, the 1st Aviation Regiment maintained consistent online aircraft including live-fire activities.
“The lessons learnt from this exercise will enhance our ability to provide safe, effective and sustainable aviation to the joint force.”
CAPTION: Exercise Griffin Eagle is a 1st Aviation Regiment ARH Tiger helicopter deployment to the United States of America, the exercise consists of a trial for testing of platform systems at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake. Photo by Captain Gavin Partridge.