U.S. Airmen partner with Australian Air Force

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  • By Daisy Grant

Members of the Royal Australian Air Force 2 Squadron of the 42 Wing visited Tinker Air Force Base July 13 in preparation for the renewal of a partnership program involving the 552nd Air Control Wing.

Similar to a program between 2003 and 2008, it will involve the U.S. sending two Airmen, either pilots or air battle managers, to partner with the Australian squadron for about three years at a time.

Australian Airmen will also come to Tinker AFB in a less formal program.

The program is set up to increase interoperability by allowing U.S. air battle managers to better understand the E-7A “Wedgetail” Airborne Early Warning and Control System and help Australian Airmen learn more about the U.S. E-3 AWACS aircraft capabilities.

To recognize the program’s rebirth, members of the squadron visited Tinker AFB with an E-7 aircraft, allowing members of the 552nd ACW to walk through it.

Lt. Col. Brian Donehue, director of staff for the 552nd ACW, said it is an incredible opportunity for Airmen to learn to better communicate and apply battle management command and control.

“So what that means is, this air crew that is working at the tactical level is going to grow up and be part of the operation level and the strategic level of deployment of these assets. So this is how partnership capacity starts,” Donehue said.

“They start it at a young age, they work together and then when they get to be majors, colonels and generals, they know what it feels like to work together.”

Donehue said the program will benefit the wing’s priorities of people and readiness by providing an opportunity for the Airmen to grow and learn how the Royal Australian Air Force applies command and control skills.

“It’s like cross-pollination, we learn (and) exchange tactics from them, they get tactics from us, and then it is easier to communicate in the battle space,” Donehue said.

He said two Airmen began the program July 16, and there are talks of expanding it to include naval flight officers.

Wing Commander Michael Bowen said he is confident in the U.S. Airmens’ E-3 experience.

“It’s hugely beneficial to understand each of our respective capabilities at an operator level and drive interoperability,” Bowen said.