960th flies with the Royal Australian Air Force

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt Ashlyn K. Paulson

No distance is too far for the 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron, especially when it means integrating with international partners like Australia

The 960th AACS traveled to Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown earlier this month to test the capabilities of the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System with the Australian version of the AWACS, the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.

“This trip allowed us to integrate with the RAAF,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Doyle, an assistant director of operations for the 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron, who served as the Mission Crew Commander during this joint-operation. “While we were concerned about limitations due to different operating procedures, the flight went better than expected and provided a great opportunity to build on partnership and international training.”

The Wedgetail is very similar to the AWACS in that crew positions are almost identical, however, the Wedgetail has a much smaller crew size as their crew is able to assume multiple positions on the jet.

By having similar crew positions, it made for seamless mission planning and beneficial debriefs for both American and Australian counterparts.

“This flight was monumental because we were able to train in the electronic spectrum with international partners,” said Doyle. “Typically, this experience isn’t available unless we are being threatened in a real life event. To gain this knowledge in a training environment ensures we are better prepared for a real event.”

This interaction with the RAAF is one of several stops on the AWACS Pacific Tour. Other stops included Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and Hickam AFB, Hawaii

“We don’t know when or where the next war will occur, but we can rest easy knowing the Aussies are on our side,” Doyle said.

Both Air Forces had many key takeaways and lessons learned following the integration, ensuring our partnership is unified and prepared for future exercises, operations or any other mission that may require international support.