RAAF’s successful fighter-jet exercise in Thailand

RAAF personnel and aircraft have left Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, having completed a successful fighter jet exercise with the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF).

CAPTIONA RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft from 1 Squadron taxiing after a sortie during Exercise Thai Boomerang 23 at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Story by Flight Lieutenant Rob Hodgson. Photos by Leading Aircraftman Ryan Howell.

Exercise Thai Boomerang 23 focused on enhancing interoperability between the two forces through dissimilar air combat training and large-force employment scenarios.

Traditionally held every two years, this year’s Thai Boomerang was the first since 2019 after COVID-19 forced the activity to be cancelled in 2021.

As such, both sides were keen to get together again in the skies above Thailand.

The exercise involved F/A-18F Super Hornets from 1 Squadron on the Australian side working alongside Thai F-16 Fighting Falcon and JAS-39 Gripen fighters.

Wing Commander Sean Hamilton, Commanding Officer 1 Squadron, said the exercise exposed Australian aircrew to fighting alongside dissimilar aircraft.

“They had to work collaboratively with their RTAF counterparts to understand each other’s capabilities and to develop effective integrated mission plans and this experience has strengthened their ability to partner with the RTAF in the future,” Wing Commander Hamilton said.

“Additionally, our squadron has benefited from working in the South-East Asian tropical environment and our aircrew and maintenance have worked through heat, humidity and thunderstorms to generate airpower.

CAPTIONRoyal Thai Air Force Squadron Leader Chollatis Maneewong and RAAF Flight Lieutenant Benjamin Wallace during Exercise Thai Boomerang 23 at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.

“We have followed the lead of the RTAF and learnt from their experience operating in this environment.”

Flight Lieutenant Jack Leavesley, a pilot from 1 Squadron, said he would carry what he learnt from the Thais through his career.

“We have got so much value out of planning, briefing, flying and then debriefing with the aviators of the RTAF,” Flight Lieutenant Leavesley said.

“I have developed many friendships and have immense appreciation for the pride and professionalism that the RTAF have.”

RAAF also embedded a Combat Support Group firefighter plus a 452 Squadron air traffic controller with their respective RTAF counterparts to share their experiences and learn from each other.

Australia regards Thailand as an important partner and the two countries share a rich history and a deep defence partnership.

Reflecting Thailand’s importance as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific, the Australia-Thailand relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in November 2020.

CAPTIONFlight Sergeant Bruce Flesser and Royal Thai Air Force firefighters during Exercise Thai Boomerang 23 at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.


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