Last week, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) carried out a training mission as part of the ongoing Exercise Black Dagger. The exercise took place near Townsville in northeastern Australia.
As part of the training exercise, two non-nuclear-capable USAF B-1B Lancer bombers based at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam participated in a 12-hour sortie. The bombers used simulated and inert weapons after being directed by RAAF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC).
“The Australian and U.S. air forces continue to work toward safeguarding security and stability in the region with missions focused on integrated operations,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Williams, Pacific Air Forces Director of Air and Cyberspace Operations, according to a statement released by U.S. Pacific Command.
“Joint exercises like these validate our ability to train and operate together seamlessly and ensures our ability to collectively respond cohesively if necessary,” Williams added.
“During the exercise, the B-1 pilots maintained contact with RAAF JTACs on the ground in order to safely and effectively deliver firepower when and where determined by the Australian team,” a U.S. Pacific Command statement noted.
JTACs are forces that direct combat aircraft, including bombers, to their targets from a forward position. The RAAF was the first U.S. ally to be approved to operate JTACs for USAF assets in 2006.
“Participating in tactical training with our American counterparts continues a legacy of combined military training activities that stretches back several decades,” Air Vice Marshal Roberton, the Royal Australian Air Force Air Commander, added..
“This exercise, and others like it, demonstrate our commitment to continuing to hone our skills as airmen.”
Exercise Black Dagger is a twice-annual training event that allows U.S. and Australian forces to coordinate air support operations, including close air support and joint terminal attack controller integration.
In addition to Exercise Black Dagger, the banner bilateral drill between U.S. and Australian forces each year is the Talisman Sabre series of exercises, which involves thousands of troops and focus on broad warfighting and interoperability.