No. 4 Squadron Combat Controllers - The Commander’s eyes and ears on the ground

A Royal Australian Air Force No. 4 Squadron Combat Control Team conduct their final checks prior to arriving at the jump zone over Baker Airfield, Tinian Island, as part of Exercise Cope North 19.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) No. 4 Squadron (4SQN) Combat Control Team (CCT) has the important job of being the first on the ground to assess the viability for aircraft and personnel arrival.

During Exercise Cope North, 4SQN worked with United States Air Force (USAF) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) to enhance the air and ground crew’s ability to work together. 

The RAAF CCT is comprised of Combat Controllers who have specialist skills in reconnaissance, assault zone control and clearance of an airfield.

Combat Controllers provide a range of capabilities, including declaring a landing zone safe for aircraft to land, meteorology observation and controlling air strikes from the ground.

During training activities at Exercise Cope North NORTH, the RAAF CCT practiced two types of airfield insertions into Baker Airfield at Tinian Island. The team conducted tactical air land operations by ground via a JASDF C-130H Hercules and practised parachuting from USAF C-130J Hercules aircraft. 

The 4SQN Detachment Commander, Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) J explained that the CCT play a critical role in securing the ground for advanced force arrival.

“Our role is to be the commander’s first eyes and ears on the ground and exercises such as Cope North allow us to sharpen our skills in rapid airfield clearance.

“One of our most valuable experiences was parachuting into a simulated disaster zone from a USAF C-130J Hercules. We worked with a USAF Jump master, conducting jumps at both 6,000 and 10,000 feet.

“It’s important for us to continue to integrate our skills with the USAF and JASDF so that we can effectively work together in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In a disaster situation we want to be able to get our forces in as soon as practicable. Training with multi-national crews expands our contingency options, allowing us to successfully work with each other’s aircraft and personnel,” SQNLDR J said.

Exercise Cope North helps cultivate common bonds and foster goodwill between regional nations by conducting multi-lateral humanitarian and civil assistance operations.