Why are helicopters flying over Wollongong?

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is currently conducting maritime counter-terrorism training in the Wollongong area during the night and day.

ADF says the public should not be alarmed if they see or hear military helicopters, vehicles and military personnel carrying weapons. No ammunition will be used during the training.

The training involves responses to simulated terrorist scenarios, and NSW Police and local councils are aware of the training. The training is expected to continue during March.

Commander of Army’s 16th Aviation Brigade, Brigadier David Hafner, said ADF personnel were looking forward to the opportunity to use the selected areas for this essential training.

“Aviation training to support counter-terrorism activities is designed to be complex, and is required to be undertaken in locations unfamiliar to the aircrew,” Brigadier Hafner said.

“We’re very much looking forward to using these areas to help our helicopter crews and personnel continue to build our world-class counter terrorism response capability.

“We acknowledge these activities may result in some noise disturbance for residents in the vicinity, but I want to reassure everybody this is essential to provide our personnel with realistic training.

“Defence will not take any risks with the health of local residents and for everybody’s safety we ask that if you do see or hear the training, please maintain your distance.”

Training will continue during the COVID-19 pandemic ensure the ADF is operating at the highest level of capability in order to support Australia’s national interests.

Defence continues to adhere to Government guidelines on reducing the spread of COVID-19 with all Defence personnel participating in the training being screened for COVID-19 symptoms before commencing the training.

ADF says Defence is unable to provide further information regarding this training in order to protect operational tactics, techniques and procedures.

The counter-terrorism training is under way in Sydney and the Illawarra, South Coast, Capital and Hunter Regions of NSW,  in the greater Townsville and Airlie Beach areas of Queensland during March.