RAAF Base Townsville will have an influx of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft and activity for this year’s Exercise Black Dagger, starting today.
CAPTION: A US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron 27 conducts a show of force as part of the live-fire exercise during Exercise Black Dagger 2017. Story by Flight Lieutenant Rob Hodgson. Photo by Sergeant Kirk Peacock.
Running until 2 June, the exercise’s intent is training personnel in the coordination of close air support and artillery strikes in support of the joint force.
It is also the culminating activity for students on the No. 71 Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) course, and provides an opportunity to coordinate aircraft and ordnance in live and simulated air-to-ground strikes.
This highly specialised skill is an integral component to maximise the employment of air force and army firepower in a congested battlespace.
Commanding Officer 4 Squadron Wing Commander Sean Jobson said Black Dagger was a critical component of JTAC training as it consolidated everything the students had learnt throughout the course.
“Black Dagger will involve the students executing all phases of close air support missions, from the planning and briefing to the controlling and reporting,” Wing Commander Jobson said.
“The exercise is a live-fire activity, which ensures that the JTACs are ready to employ close air support operationally when supporting the joint force.”
4 Squadron will deploy the Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, while 77 Squadron will support the exercise with the F-35A Lightning II.
“The Pilatus PC-21 and F-35A Lightning II aircraft will deploy to RAAF Base Townsville for the duration of the exercise, and will also operate in to the Townsville Field and Shoalwater Bay training areas,” Wing Commander Jobson said.
The exercise scenarios are conducted at the Townsville Field Training Area and Shoalwater Bay Training Area as they offer safe and controlled environments for simulated and live weapons employment.
The exercise will be supported by the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment C-47F Chinooks and associated personnel, and a 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, M777 155mm howitzer and crew will play key roles in the JTAC course’s objectives.
JTAC students will also join forces with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, to test their newly developed qualifications during a simulated live-fire platoon assault.
Aircraft will operate on weekdays and during routine daylight flying hours for the duration of Exercise Black Dagger.