The Royal Australian Air Force contribution to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC 10) has been hailed as an overwhelming success, with both AP-3C Orion crews earning high praise from their Australian commander.
11 Squadron (RAAF Edinburgh) deployed two Orions and 93 personnel to RIMPAC which is the largest maritime military exercise of its kind in the world. Based at Kaneohe Bay on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, they were among 1200 ADF personnel from RAAF, Navy and the Army participating in RIMPAC. Commander, Australia National Command Element, CDRE Stuart Mayer said 11 Squadron’s role was critical to the overall success of RIMPAC.
“The highlight for the RAAF was firing of a Harpoon missile,” CDRE Mayer said. Planning for this evolution was intense and the result was overwhelmingly positive for all involved. 11 Squadron spent long periods preparing with exercise planners and the Navy’s Anzac Class Frigate HMAS Warramunga which was also involved in the MISSILEX. That cooperation continued right up until the missile hit its target.
According to CO 11 Squadron, WGCDR Phillip Champion, the execution was flawless. “It came off the wing, skidded along the surface and popped up to hit the target, which was the former US Amphibious carrier New Orleans. It was a great event for us from a coordination point of view with Warramunga and from a high end warfare fighting perspective,” WGCDR Champion said. “We got the chance to practise our crew and heighten awareness by carrying a live weapon as well.”
CDRE Mayer said cooperation by the RAAF and Navy was critical to the outcome. “The theme of RIMPAC 10 is Combined Agility, Synergy and Support. That’s definitely what we saw during the Harpoon evolution, from our own forces as well as with our allies here for this exercise.”
The AP-3C Orion missions during RIMPAC 10 also included Undersea Warfare (USW), Surface Warfare (SUW) and Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (MISR). Both aircraft held up incredibly well. During the Schedule of Events phase the crews completed 11 out of 12 flights. They also managed to notch up about 90 percent of their Anti Submarine warfare contact time. WGCDR Champion said the entire team could be very proud of their efforts. “Our work was integrated into a combined air, surface and sub-surface environment and everyone contributes to that end game. For any weapon to impact the target, on time, there’s a lot of moving parts.”
Overall, WGCDR Champion said RIMPAC 10 had provided his crews with vital one-on-one time with the Australian Navy. “We’re currently doing a lot of tasking in the Middle East but that’s all over land. We are also involved in Operation Resolute to our north. But RIMPAC has provided us with the opportunity to practice high end war fighting skills in anti submarine warfare and anti surface unit warfare. It’s great to be working with the Navy again. We had to come all the way to Hawaii to do it! “ WGCDR Champion also acknowledged the opportunity to operate alongside Australia’s allies, 13 of whom are attending RIMPAC this year.
“We had some Koreans ride with us the other day and we’ve had some Australians ride with the US Navy, as well the Canadians. We’ve had some great opportunities to see how other people do business and pick up some good ideas here and there along the way,” he said.
“That to me is what RIMPAC is all about.”
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