Battle to dominate airspace on Exercise Diamond Shield

For three weeks during Exercise Diamond Shield there was a battle to dominate the airspace off the coast of Newcastle involving Australian and United States fighter jets.

As part of Exercise Diamond Shield candidates from the Air Warfare Instructor Course (AWIC) have been fighting it out as the “blue” force against the United States Air Forces 18th Aggressor Squadron (18 AGRS) who have been playing one of the “red” air elements.

F-16 pilot Captain (CAPT) Chris Prochnow said the objective of the 18 AGRS was to strike notional targets while the blue force defended the area using defensive counter air strategies.

“The beauty of the 18th AGRS is that we can replicate and fly any type of scenario you’d expect from an adversary nation,” CAPT Prochnow said.

“The F-16 provides realism to the scenarios, as the aircraft is smaller which gives it a smaller radar signature than what candidates would be used to seeing with a Hornet.

“It’s the simple things, like fighting in a visual arena and seeing a different aircraft out there that provides the value to their training.”

An AWIC candidate and F/A-18 Hornet pilot said that working alongside the 18 AGRS had been an amazing opportunity that was extremely important for the overall achievement of the mission.

“The challenges they have brought to our training evolutions has been incredibly beneficial to our overall development.

“They are an extremely professional team, so having them come down to Australia to supplement our training has been fantastic”, the AWIC candidate said.

The second tactical phase of the Diamond series, Diamond Shield has been an intensive three weeks for both the candidates and the instructors as part of defensive counter air phase of the course.

80 aircraft from Australia and the United States participated in Diamond Shield in the air space off the coast of Newcastle. United States Air Force F-16s from the 18 AGRS, supported by two KC-135 deployed to RAAF Amberley completed the complex scenario facing the AWIC candidates.

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