Exercise Bersama Shield officially kicks off with Australia’s Super Hornets launching on their first overseas mission
F/A-18F Super Hornets soared through the Malaysian skies today on their first mission during Exercise Bersama Shield 2011.
The Super Hornets, also known as Rhinos, have commenced the Force Integration Training phase which sees the aircrew practice basic fighter manoeuvres alongside military aircraft from the Malaysian and Singaporean defence forces.
Six of the Rhinos from No 1 Squadron touched down at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base in Butterworth on Friday 29 April to participate in their first overseas deployment since delivery of the multi-role fighter jets in March last year.
Commanding Officer No 1 Squadron, Wing Commander Glen Braz, said this is a significant milestone for the ADF and more specifically the Super Hornet capability, especially as we recognise 40 years of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) this year.
“Participating in Exercise Bersama Shield provides our air and ground crews, as well as support staff, the valuable opportunity to train alongside our regional partners.
“This level of training also aims to enhance and further develop air combat capability and high-end warfighting skills in a complex mutli-national environment.”
The Super Hornets are now participating in the Force Integration Training exercise phase before launching into the Live Exercise phase between 10 – 13 May.
“The inclusion of the highly capable, multi-role Super Hornet in Bersama Shield is another example of the technological evolution and enhanced support Australia provides to the region,” Wing Commander Braz said.
“This exercise also provides the vital opportunity to train alongside our regional partners, as well as the planning and execution of new tactics and procedures for combined air operations with the FPDA nations.”
The Australian contribution for Bersama Shield is spearheaded by the Super Hornets, along with the Navy’s Collins class submarine HMAS Dechaineux and two Anzac class guided missile frigates, HMA Ships Ballarat and Parramatta.
Commander of the Australian Contingent for the exercise, Wing Commander Ken Robinson, said the aim of Bersama Shield is to cultivate regional ties and seeks to enhance Australia’s interoperability with the armed forces of Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom and strengthen the professional relationships between those nation’s forces.
“Australia’s membership of FPDA is a strong affirmation of our commitment to regional security,” he said.
“It provides Australia with a strategically important presence in Southeast Asia, augmenting our bilateral engagement activities and helping to promote greater levels of interoperability in the region.”
Bersama Shield is an annual field training exercise hosted by HQ Integrated Area Defence System (HQIADS) on the Malaysian peninsula and the South China Sea. It is a tactical exercise focused on providing quality training in integrated air defence, air operations and maritime operations.
Opportunities for the five nations to work closely together are undertaken during other FPDA activities, including Bersama Lima, Bersama Padu, Suman Protector and Suman Warrior. Training in exercises such as Bersama Shield 2011 is important for Air Force personnel to hone key skills, work as a combined force and build regional relationships with participating nations.
Exercise Bersama Shield 11 represents the first overseas deployment for the F/A-18F Super Hornets and brings the project another step closer to declaring Final Operational Capability anticipated in 2012.
Exercise Bersama Shield concludes on 13 May 2011.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
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