Flying out of north-west Malaysia, the Royal Australian Air Force has deployed six F/A-18F Super Hornets and a C-27J Spartan to support Exercise Bersama Lima.
CAPTION: A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet departs from Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth during Exercise Bersama Lima 2023 in Malaysia. Story by Flying Officer Connor Bellhouse. Photos by Corporal Sam Price.
F/A-18F Super Hornet pilot Flight Lieutenant Russel said the integration between the five nations has involved everything from air planning and working with Malaysian mission controllers to flying mixed formations with various fast-jet aircraft.
“We’ve been exercising an air component defence of the Malaysian Peninsula, including down to Singapore,” Flight Lieutenant Russel said.
“We’ve been working closely with the maritime capabilities of the five nations to identify simulated threats to either maritime assets or Malaysian land targets.
“When an aircraft is detected, we proceed to intercept, identify and engage those targets as a combined force, which is a great opportunity for us to train with our partners.”
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force aircrew walk from the flightline after completing a sortie at Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth.
Deploying to Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Base Butterworth, 1 Squadron has been supported and sustained by a range of aviators.
“Our technical and maintenance staff work around the clock to make sure the aircraft are good to go for each mission,” Flight Lieutenant Russel said.
“We’re also really fortunate to operate out of RMAF Butterworth, which has strong ties to the RAAF. We’ve got the support of 19 Squadron based here, which has made our deployment run really smoothly.”
Being challenged in an unfamiliar environment and taking the opportunity to learn from the Malaysian and Five Power nations – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom – has been a key benefit of Exercise Bersama Lima.
“Working to become familiar operating away from our main bases is huge. Getting the experience of flying in South-East Asia, including the weather here, is really important,” Flight Lieutenant Russel said.
“When you get people coming from all over the world to a location that’s unfamiliar to them, working with the locals here to learn the best way to get the mission done has been fantastic for all the nations.”