A successful two weeks of intense anti-submarine warfare training between Navy and Air Force in the Western Australian Exercise Area concluded last Friday.
Two AP-3C Orions from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), three S-70B2 Seahawks, and HMA Ships Toowoomba and Sheean were joined by a P-8A Poseidon from the United States Navy (USN) to conduct a range of warfare serials as part of Exercise TAMEX.
The multilateral annual exercise with the United States allowed for basic and advanced, fixed wing and rotary wing maritime patrol aircraft anti-submarine warfare activities giving all assets a number of scenarios to refine procedures and tactics in both joint and combined operations. It ran concurrently to Toowoomba’s unit readiness work-up.
92 Wing Detachment Commander and lead exercise planner, Squadron Leader Marcus Watson, said this year’s exercise enabled both Navy and Air Force to achieve mutual training objectives as well as integrate the USN P-8A seamlessly into operations.
“During operations, our aircraft are flexibly tasked to do a range of missions, although anti-submarine warfare is the core business of AP-3C, P-8A and S-70-B2 aircraft. Anti submarine warfare is one of the most complex missions we conduct and this exercise allows us to utilise the aircraft to its full capability,” Squadron Leader Watson said.
“The first week of TAMEX exceeded expectations. The United States Navy P-8A aircraft fit in seamlessly, so it was really good for our interoperability and to see how our future capability conducts business. Being able to align expectations and schedules as well as achieve training outcomes for both Air Command and Fleet Command has been great.
“We were able to provide Toowoomba with continual fixed wing coverage to protect the ship from the threat simulated by the submarine Sheean. We demonstrated the ability to move tasking from our P3 over to the USN P8 and back again to our Air Force asset with the Navy Seahawks providing that ongoing additional support.
“Getting aviators from the two Services and the USN together to practise our processes such as acoustic tracking using sonar buoys, while working together to prosecute the submarine as part of the exercise, was great.
“Australia and the US military have similar tactical procedures for operations. Being able to assist in getting Toowoomba ready during her unit readiness work-up was the icing on the cake,” Squadron Leader Watson said.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Sheean, Commander Richard Smallwood said he was very happy with the way that his crew performed during TAMEX.
“This type of exercise provides the submarine arm with unique challenges against a range of very capable aircraft, operated across three very different armed services.
“Whilst I enjoy the personal and collective professional training that has been achieved, I also get great satisfaction in knowing that through Sheean’s participation in TAMEX, Australian submarines and their crews will have gained the respect of yet another generation of mariners and airmen,” Commander Smallwood said.
“It is also good to see TAMEX being developed further as a multi-service exercise, which allows us to attain much better interoperability skills.
“Working with the USN, RAAF and Navy aircraft; all who are at the top of their game, makes for an enjoyable and extremely challenging exercise,” he said.
Press Release, March 14, 2014, 2014; Image: Australian Navy