Career variety and working with a diverse group of interesting people is why Flight Lieutenant Aaron Thorpe became an air battle manager with the Royal Australian Air Force.
Originally from the suburbs of Langwarrin, Victoria, Flight Lieutenant Thorpe joined the Air Force in 2005 and is currently working in Japan on the RAAF’s first ever air combat exercise with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai).
Over his 14-year career, he has been on many exercises both abroad and at home; but Exercise Bushido Guardian is his first experience of Japan.
“Since I was young, I always wanted to join Defence because I wanted a constantly evolving job that would challenge me,” Flight Lieutenant Thorpe said.
“It can be very high-tempo and can be quite intense when you are responsible for solving real-time problems like juggling air-to-air refuelling schedules and de-conflicting aircraft.”
His role has seen him deploy to the Middle East, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, the United States and, now, Japan.
“My job involves controlling the air war and enacting the larger battle plan,” he said.
“Here on Exercise Bushido Guardian we are doing just that, working alongside our Koku-Jieitai partners controlling F-2, F-15 and F/A-18 aircraft.”
The airman says the Koku-Jieitai’s operating context is different to Australia’s.
“One of the highlights for me has been understanding how they interweave their operational and training requirements,” he said.
“Working with the Koku-Jieitai has been great and it’s pretty special to be a part of the first time that our air battle managers and air surveillance operators have exercised together in Japan.
“I enjoy the fact that I get to work with some of my best friends as well as making new international friends in challenging environments. The job has taken me around the world and continues to push me, which is what I love.”
For Exercise Bushido Guardian, the RAAF deployed an air weapons team, made up of of air battle managers and air surveillance operators from No. 41 Wing to Misawa, Japan.
The exercise runs from September 11 to October 8 and aims to further strengthen Australia’s defence relationship with Japan.