Battle group takes to the skies

Combined aviation mission sets were the focus of Exercise Vigilant Scimitar this year.

CAPTION: Australian Army MRH90 Taipan from the 5th Aviation Regiment prepares to land behind the CH-47F Chinook during Exercise Vigilant Scimitar at Ingham Airport, Queensland. Story by Captain Carolyn Barnett. Photo by Corporal Jarrod McAneney.

The annual 16th Aviation Brigade foundation warfighting activity comprised Tiger ARHs from 1st Aviation Regiment out of Darwin, and CH-47F Chinooks, MRH-90 Taipans and AW-139s from Townsville’s 5th Aviation Regiment.

Leased commercial AW-139s were operated for the exercise in a supporting role. Commanding Officer of 5th Aviation Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Christopher McDougall, said the exercise provided opportunities to practice mission sets.

“In the past we have worked as part of the combined-arms team in a supporting role,” he said.

“It’s fantastic that we had this opportunity to be the primary focus of a training exercise, integrating all of the combined-arms team under an aviation headquarters.”

Operating from Charters Towers Airport and Macrossan from May 14-28, the combined missions used multiple aircraft types to conduct troop lifts, simulated attack scenarios and other activities. Lieutenant Colonel McDougall said community engagement was also an essential part of the activity.

“We have been working closely, with the Charters Towers council, Queensland police and the local community to establish relationships and provide a service to the town,” he said.

The immersive and realistic multi-echelon advanced training event, using advanced platforms and complex mission profiles, was conducted in a deployed joint task force environment, supported by elements of 3rd Brigade, 7th Brigade, 17th Sustainment Brigade as well as Navy, Air Force and other contributing force elements.

CAPTION: Trooper Ethan MacKinlay from the 5th Aviation Regiment, marshals an ARH Tiger helicopter to land during Exercise Vigilant Scimitar at Charters Towers Airport, Queensland. Photo by Corporal Jarrod McAneney.

Lieutenant Colonel McDougall said the exercise was designed to prepare the Australian Defence Force to respond to threats in challenging terrains within complex operational, strategic and political contexts and was an opportunity to re-group and get back to the basics.

“Foundation-level training underpins capability,” he said.





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