Exercise Kakadu 2018 - Force integration training a valuable tool

AP-3C Orion crew from No. 10 Squadron (10SQN) conducted Force Integration Training (FIT) activities with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as part of Exercise Kakadu in September.

The FIT Phase included anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare training.

AP-3C Orion pilot, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) David Burnard, said the FIT Phase involves close interaction with the RAN.

“During these missions we undertook direct support operations where we went out to the training area, joined with a Navy ship and they tasked us,” FLTLT Burnard said.

“These tasks included where they wanted us to look and what we were looking for,” he said.

“We also conducted anti-submarine warfare for submarines below the surface – helped map out where the ships were in the area and helped them protect themselves,” he said.

As the FIT Phase continued, 10SQN progressed to work with some of the surface vessels from both Australian and international participants.

“This element of the training enabled us to provide direct support to them which gave them the opportunity to practise utilising a maritime patrol aircraft, protect the force and search for submarines,” he said.

The AP-3C Orion has an approximate crew of 12 on board where five manned the sensor stations.

“We have sensors on board that enable us to monitor sonobuoys which we can drop, allowing us to find and track a submarine,” FLTLT Burnard said.

“This is such a vital capability for training, not only whilst we’re flying, but also how we operate the aircraft tactically,” he said.

Being his first time on Kakadu, FLTLT Burnard said the experience had been fantastic.

“Exercise Kakadu is significant to us because it’s the last major exercise for the P3s before they retire and the P8 Poseidon takes over,” he said.

 “It’s been great to network with a lot of our international partners as well as see how they operate,” he said.