Bombardiers on target at Bersama Shield

For two members of the Australian contingent in Malaysia participating in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024, the opportunity to exercise their joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) skills with fellow international JTACs and ground forward air controllers (GFAC) was a career highlight.

CAPTIONJoint terminal attack controller Bombardier Jackson Lawrence (right) alongside JTAC and Ground Forward Air Controllers (GFAC) from the UK and Malaysia call in close air support from a Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 in the Tioman Island group, Malaysia during Exercise Bersama Shield 2024. Story by Lieutenant Mick Wheeler.

Bombardier Matt Freegard, of JTAC Troop, School of Artillery and Bombardier Jackson Lawrence, of the 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, joined fellow JTACs and GFACs from Malaysia and the UK in controlling high-speed jet aircraft during several close air support sorties.

“Our role as JTACs during the exercise was to call in close air support from combat aircraft onto targets in support of the joint exercise force,” Bombardier Freegard said.

“Working with our Malaysian, UK and Singaporean partners was a great opportunity to share knowledge and the different ways we go about conducting close air support missions.”

Royal Malaysian Air Force Hawk aircraft from 6 Squadron and Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft from 149 and 145 Squadron flew several sorties working directly with the JTACs simulating air-to-ground strikes.

Bombardier Lawrence was impressed with the skills of the aircraft and aircrew.

“Being in direct contact with the aircrew simulating a ground attack, along with seeing the skilful handling of the different aircraft, was a standout for me,” he said.

“And doing all this while on an offshore island in Malaysia was just an added bonus.”

The Commander of the Australian Contingent, Squadron Leader Jamie Fox, said having JTACs participate on Exercise Bersama Shield was a great opportunity for the five nations to demonstrate their interoperability.

The annual training exercise is conducted by nations of the Five Power Defence Arrangements  – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom – to strengthen their professional relationships.


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