Air Force conducts Exercise Black Dagger 23

The Royal Australian Air Force will deploy personnel and aircraft to RAAF Base Townsville to conduct Exercise Black Dagger from 22 May to 2 June 2023.

Exercise Black Dagger is the closing activity for No. 71 Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) Course. The exercise requires students to coordinate the live and simulated employment of aircraft and ordnance in a range of air and ground scenarios.

Commanding Officer No. 4 Squadron, Wing Commander Sean Jobson, said the exercise was a critical component of JTAC training as it enabled students to consolidate learning from throughout the course.  

“Exercise Black Dagger enables the students to execute all phases of close air support missions, from the planning and briefing to the controlling and reporting,” Wing Commander Jobson said.

“The exercise is a live-fire activity which ensures the JTACs are ready to utilise close air support operationally, in support of the joint force.”

No. 4 Squadron will deploy Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, and be supported by F-35A Lightning II aircraft from No. 77 Squadron. Aircraft will also operate into the Townsville Field and Shoalwater Bay Training Areas.

Commanding Officer No. 77 Squadron, Wing Commander Paul Simmons, said Exercise Black Dagger provided a crucial opportunity for an operational F-35A squadron to undertake high-intensity live weapon preparation in support of the joint force.

“The F-35A is an essential fifth-generation capability that suppresses and destroys advanced enemy defences and systems, reducing the risk in the battlespace. It enables the joint force to prosecute defence missions at a lower risk to personnel and higher probability of success,” Wing Commander Simmons said.

“This is a role No. 77 Squadron has embraced and excelled at since its formation in March 1942.”

For more information, visit the Defence Aircraft Noise website or call 1300 DEFENCE (1300 333 362).

Flying schedule

  • Pilatus PC-21 aircraft from No. 4 Squadron and F-35A Lightning II aircraft from No. 77 Squadron will deploy to RAAF Base Townsville for Exercise Black Dagger
  • 22 May to 2 June 2023