Australia — Next generation of fighter pilots gear up for final test

Australia’s next gen­er­a­tion of fight­er pilots are set to grad­u­ate as F/A‑18 Hor­net pilots as they pre­pare to return to RAAF Townsville in North Queens­land to par­tic­i­pate in Exer­cise HIGH SIERRA.

The pilots from No. 2 Oper­a­tional Con­ver­sion Unit at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales will be put through their paces dur­ing the final phase of the six-month long oper­a­tional con­ver­sion course. 

Exer­cise HIGH SIERRA will be con­duct­ed from 21 Novem­ber to 8 Decem­ber and rep­re­sents the last three weeks of the F/A‑18 oper­a­tional con­ver­sion course, which con­verts fight­er pilots from the Hawk Mk127 Lead-in-fight­er air­craft to the F/A‑18 Hornet. 

More than 150 Air Force per­son­nel and up to 12 F/A‑18 Hor­net fight­er jets will arrive at RAAF Townsville on Fri­day 18 Novem­ber in prepa­ra­tion for this vital train­ing activ­i­ty, which will be con­duct­ed in the Shoal­wa­ter Bay and Townsville Field train­ing areas. 

The exer­cise allows Air Force to main­tain its key capa­bil­i­ties such as the per­for­mance of pre­ci­sion strike missions. 

It also pro­vides par­tic­i­pants with high com­plex­i­ty air com­bat train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for Air Force to test and prac­tice its deploy­ment capa­bil­i­ties so that it can oper­ate away from its home bases when necessary. 

Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of No. 2 Oper­a­tional Con­ver­sion Unit, Wing Com­man­der David Smith, said the exer­cise was the cul­mi­na­tion of six months of inten­sive train­ing on the F/A‑18 for his students. 

“Exer­cise HIGH SIERRA rep­re­sents vital train­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion of Air Force fight­er pilots. They must achieve and main­tain the skills need­ed to oper­ate very sophis­ti­cat­ed flight and weapons sys­tems, ulti­mate­ly for the defence of our nation and to main­tain peace and secu­ri­ty into the future,” Wing Com­man­der Smith said. 

“The Squadron is look­ing for­ward to return­ing to Townsville on deploy­ment this year. We all have fond mem­o­ries of the region from pre­vi­ous exer­cis­es. Townsville is a great place to oper­ate from. I’d like to thank Townsville and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty for their ongo­ing sup­port of our vital train­ing requirements.” 

Exer­cise HIGH SIERRA will involve day and night fly­ing oper­a­tions. There is no planned exer­cise fly­ing on week­ends with all week day oper­a­tions sched­uled to con­clude by 10pm. Mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty are encour­aged to con­tact 1800 555 478 for infor­ma­tion on fly­ing activities. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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