It was Friday afternoon when the call was made for RAAF Base Amberley-based 35 Squadron to mobilise and move to RAAF Base Townsville, testing the squadron’s tactical readiness to plan, deploy and fly missions at short notice, for Exercise Ready Spartan Prove.
CAPTION: No. 35 Squadron C-27J Spartan pilot Flight Lieutenant Matthew Still on approach to Cormorant airfield, west of Townsville during Exercise Ready Spartan Prove. Story and photo by Flight Lieutenant Greg Hinks.
Loadmasters Corporals Alannah Badger and Jakeb Thorogood had the C-27J Spartan loaded.
Pilots Flight Lieutenant Matthew Still and Flying Officer Brianna Hawkins, the first of the team, were on their way from RAAF Base Amberley.
Once the Spartan landed at RAAF Base Townsville, its crew were immediately put through a number of scenarios in the aircraft’s light tactical fixed-wing role, with additional simulated threats, increasing in complexity, pushing the crews to plan and complete missions at short notice.
Squadron Leader Rob Crawford oversaw the exercise, which included tactical day and night flying and, in a first for the Spartan, flying into Cormorant airfield, a grass runway, west of Townsville.
“Cormorant is a relatively short and narrow grass airstrip, ideally suited for the C-27J Spartan,” Squadron Leader Crawford said.
“The airfield was only recently surveyed for Air Mobility Group use and Exercise Ready Spartan Prove provided the first opportunity to land at Cormorant.
“We now have another proven landing point of operations in the Townsville field training area to support Army and 383 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron on future exercises.”
It was a fast-moving exercise, with C-27J Spartan pilot Flying Officer Brianna Hawkins challenged but pleased with the seamless integration involving other ADF units, including Townsville-based 383 Squadron, and a resupply of Army’s 3rd Brigade.
“This was a good learning opportunity for all three units to integrate and gain efficiencies for future exercises,” Flying Officer Hawkins said.
“The most challenging part of a readiness exercise like this one is staying on the front foot while the plan changes and making sure you can still achieve the mission as the scenario builds and gets more complex.”
This was the seventh iteration of Exercise Ready Spartan Prove, with more planned for the future.