Nations work together to keep runways open

A team from RAAF’s 65 Air Base Recovery Squadron took a lead role in airfield damage repair training during Exercise Balikatan in the Philippines.

CAPTIONRAAF Corporal Anthony Holmes, left, Leading Aircraftman Matthew Park and Leading Aircraftman Ryan Wilson operate a concrete-cutting saw at Basa Air Base, Philippines, during Exercise Balikatan. Story by Sergeant David Said. Photos by Corporal Sam Price.

Within a specially built training area at Basa Air Base, about 130km northwest of Manila, the sound of fighter jets lifting off from the nearby runway overpowered the sound of excavators and concrete cutters.

The roar of the aircraft was an apt reminder to the squadron’s team leader, Corporal Anthony Holmes, of why the training was so critical.

“It’s important to refine our airfield damage repair skills to ensure they’re efficient,” Corporal Holmes said.

“At the end of the day, we need an operational runway to get aircraft on and off the ground.

“Completing our repairs quickly allows the Air Force to succeed in its mission to deliver air power.”

Airfield engineers from the Philippine Air Force and United States Air Force joined the team of four Australians for the training.

The three nations worked together to repair a simulated bomb crater by thoroughly compressing road base into the hole before covering it with a reinforced fibreglass panel.

CAPTIONLeading Aircraftwoman Lillandra Greenup operates an excavator during airfield damage repair training in the Philippines.

Corporal Holmes said training with the Filipinos and Americans was enjoyable and valuable.

“Exercise Balikatan has allowed us to build relationships with our allied nations so in the future when we work together we will already be familiar with each other’s policies and procedures,” he said.

“Morale was great on the work site … there were plenty of jokes and we were able to share Tim Tams, which was a great icebreaker.”

Eight members of 65 Air Base Recovery Squadron deployed on Exercise Balikatan.






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