Gunners from the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, sent an abundance of munitions down range during Exercise Barce, with the gun batteries honing small team skills to prosecute targets quickly.
CAPTION: Australian Army Gunners from the 105th Battery of the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, fire a 155mm SMArt anti-armour round from a M777 155mm Howitzer during Exercise Barce 2022 at Shoalwater Bay Training Area. Story by Captain Taylor Lynch. Photo by Corporal Nicole Dorrett.
Exercise Barce, conducted in the Shoalwater Bay training area, was the first live-fire activity for the regiment this year since being tasked to support Operation Flood Assist.
With many new soldiers in the unit, some gunners fired 155mm SMArt anti-armour munitions for the first time, yielding excellent results.
Sergeant Peter Graham said the live fire and time in the field was important for the gunners in the 1st Regiment.
“For some of the newer gunners, this is their first shootout as part of a regiment since their initial training, and they’re performing excellently,” Sergeant Graham said.
“They have been learning the best ways to operate the gun and build trust while working with high explosives.
Particularly with the new munitions, like the SMArt rounds, they’re all learning together and forming strong teams.”
Sergeant Graham said there was a unique dynamic and camaraderie that was only seen on an artillery gun line.
“Teamwork starts in the barracks, but out here it’s developed through fatigue and hard work,” he said.
“Out here in the field there’s men and women cooperating day in, day out, lugging humungous rounds together, and operating as a small team with the guidance of the Number One.
“Teamwork is built due to the competitiveness; each battery detachment wants to be the fastest to action and the first to fire all their rounds.
“Everyone wants to be successful, and everyone wants to be the best.”
CAPTION: Australian Army Gunners from the 104th Battery of the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, prepare the M777 155mm Howitzer to fire during Exercise Barce at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland. Photo by Corporal Nicole Dorrett.
Major Aaron Foster said the gunners were eager to see how the 155mm SMArt anti-armour munitions worked, and explained how they could be employed operationally.
“Barce has been an opportunity for the gunners to get their hands on a munition that they don’t see in their day-to-day training,” Major Foster said.
“After being fired with an electronic time fuse, two sub-munitions are released that float down on a parachute, equipped with radar, looking for a thermal signature that matches dimensions that we’ve set.
“Once identified, an armour-piercing tungsten slug will be fired through that target.
“While high explosive and proximity rounds are still effective against armour, the SMArt rounds are specifically designed for targeting armoured vehicles.
“It’s an effective munition against armour, and far better at disabling armoured capabilities.”
Sergeant Graham said some of the junior gunners progressed quickly in a short period of time.
“Their skillset has advanced dramatically; they have impressed me and all the other senior soldiers,” Sergeant Graham said.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what we can achieve throughout the year as a regiment.”
CAPTION: An Army Gunner from the 105th Battery of the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, prepares to fire a 155mm SMArt anti-armour round from a M777 155mm Howitzer during Exercise Barce 2022 at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland. Photo by Corporal Nicole Dorrett.