The taking of Batchelor 2018

No. 4 Squadron descended upon Batchelor Airfield in the Northern Territory

As the sun blazed down on Tuesday the 31st of July, a Combat Control Team from Air Force’s No. 4 Squadron descended upon Batchelor Airfield in the Northern Territory in the early stages of Exercise Pitch Black 2018.

Their goal was to capture, survey, mark and control the airfield - ensuring it was fit for purpose and control air traffic before handing it over to No. 382 Contingency Response Squadron to commence the build of an austere air base.

Combat Control Team Leader Flight Lieutenant J said the training activity that started in the skies above Batchelor went to plan.

“My Combat Control Team conducted a parachute insertion for an airfield activation,” Flight Lieutenant J said.

“We conducted a survey task in preparation to hand off to the combat support group follow-on force.”

Flight Lieutenant J then said more about what their tasking involved in this part of Exercise Pitch Black.

“No. 4 Squadron Combat Control Team functions for an operation like this would be Joint Terminal Attack Control, landing zone reconnaissance and Landing Zone control,” Flight Lieutenant J said.

“Our main combat controller integration has been with Air Combat Group and Air Mobility Group.”

The Combat Control Team was also supported by the US Marine Corps who transported two operators and the All-Terrain Vehicles to Batchelor using the MV-22 Ospreys.

Once landed and prepared,  teams can use highly sophisticated equipment to measure gradients, lengths, soil strength and many other things crucial to successful aircraft operations.

Combat Controller Sergeant S discussed what is at their disposal to achieve their objectives.

“The equipment we use to fulfil our missions depends on what the specific mission is,” Sergeant S said.

“Today at Batchelor the standard load for our team included survey equipment, GPS, communications systems to provide a higher command link, navigation and battle tracking software, weapons and vehicles.”

Combat Control Teams are one element that provides Air Force an expeditionary capability.

Teams can use their skills at places with varying levels of existing infrastructure like Batchelor as well as locations like grass plains, salt pans and elsewhere that might be considered to support aircraft landings and take offs as required in ADF missions.

By LEUT Harley Slatter

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