Defense

August 18, 2017
 

China Lake hosts RAAF for training, test deployment

Members of the Royal Australian Air Force No. 1 and No. 6 Squadrons are joined by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division personnel during recent testing aboard Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif.

The sea, air and land ranges at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., were abuzz with F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G “Growler” aircraft as more than 130 members of the Royal Australian Air Force conducted a large-scale, joint operational test and evaluation deployment at China Lake and Point Mugu from May 1 until June 3.

“It’s been an almost two-year iteration of planning,” said Grady Baker, Australia case manager. “They were able to fire all of the weapons that they’d planned to shoot and got all the hours they wanted. It was a really successful event for them and it was the largest scale, varied scope that the NAWCWD Foreign Military Sales and Advance Weapons Laboratory have done in support of foreign partners.”

The test events included live fire of multiple weapons against representative threats on the Land Range and Sea Range in addition to electronic warfare testing at the China Lake Electronic Combat Range with support from personnel at Whidbey Island and Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135. RAAF has been working with the Weapons Division since the late 1980s and WD is responsible for much of the testing and developmental aspects of the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft. That, Baker noted, has helped create a familiar and comfortable working space for the Australians as they work to declare initial operating capability for their new Growler Electronic Attack aircraft.

“The RAAF were able to exercise and rehearse operational tactics against our Range threats,” Baker said. “Another big part of that is interoperability between the RAAF Super Hornet and the RAAF Growler because, up to now, they hadn’t taken the Growlers ‘Down Under’ yet. The newly delivered Growlers have been performing workup flights while located at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island where their Australian aircrews and maintainers have been stationed since 2016. Having the squadron pilots from both aircraft being able to talk was a first for them. It was a really good fit for us and them.”

“The unique thing that this brought is the Australian operational side of the house,” added Harlan Kooima, director of NAWCWD Software and Mission Systems Integration. “We’ve done work with the Science and Technology organizations in Australia, the acquisition team, and development that we’ve supported over the years, but this event really got into the Australian operational realm, which was quite different for us.”

Among their recent visits to WD, the RAAF joined U.S. Sailors and Marines in recognition of Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance that honors the fallen countrymen and women of Australia and New Zealand, in addition to participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Trans-Pacific Electronic Attack Research Lab and taking part in the 46th annual Electronic Warfare Symposium at Point Mugu.

“Australia was able to do a fantastic job and they completed all of their objectives and more,” Kooima said. “To me, what was more important is that we showed that we have an international coalition that works. It was a learning experience on both sides and that’s the way a good partnership should be.”




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