Exercise Crimson Dawn brought 1 Squadron Training Flight to RAAF Base Tindal, graduating Weapon Systems Officers (WSO) on the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
CAPTION: An F/A-18F Super Hornet from 1 Squadron takes off from RAAF Base Tindal during Exercise Crimson Dawn. Story by Pilot Officer Shanea Zeegers. Photos by Sergeant David Gibbs.
Deployed from RAAF Base Amberley, aircrew were able to refine mission-planning skills developed over the six-month F/A-18F conversion course.
The Northern Territory has arguably the world’s best training airspaces, enabling F/A-18F crew – including Pilot Officer Benjamin, one of the WSO trainees – to conduct complex mission scenarios.
“Exercise Crimson Dawn in Tindal has been a good experience, having to learn all the new operations and procedures for an unfamiliar airfield,” he said.
“It has been a nice challenge. Being able to show our ability to adapt is an important skill to learn for future exercises and operations.”
CAPTION: An F/A-18F Super Hornet student from 1 Squadron, Pilot Officer Benjamin, conducts a pre-flight inspection prior to a mission during Exercise Crimson Dawn at RAAF Base Tindal.
Exercise Crimson Dawn is an essential part of ensuring Air Force is prepared to contribute to joint effects within the air, land and maritime domains, proving the operational capability of the F/A-18F.
Preceded by nearly six months of training, including computer-based exercises, hours in the simulator, and flying at RAAF Base Amberley, trainees were put to the ultimate test at nearby Delamere Air Weapons Range in northern Australia.
Trainees of the exercise are led under the direction of 1 Squadron instructors, such as Flight Lieutenant Mitchell.
“The realism of this exercise is as close to real as it can get, directly contributing to the trainees’ success and no doubt, will continue to do so for our future aircrew,” he said.
“The highlight is seeing the progression of the students from day one where they know little to nothing about the F/A-18F, to now, where they are able to operate as effective crew members during complex missions, all out of an unfamiliar location.”
Trainees completed multi-role strike missions, which included simulated air-to-air and surface-to-air, pre-planned target strikes with both inert and high-explosive bombs, as well as dynamic targets.
This required the crews to work as a team to overcome a range of threats, release precision-guided ordnance and safely return home.
“Teamwork is essential in the execution of ground planning and airborne execution,” Pilot Officer Benjamin said.
“Within the cockpit, teamwork allows the pilot and WSO to effectively operate in the air-to-air and ground domain simultaneously.”
With RAAF Base Tindal providing world-class infrastructure, it delivers personnel the airspace facilities to conduct mission planning and high-end training.