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AIR FORCE December 10, 2009
East Coast combat
Air Force's jets go into battle over
sea and land during ECADEX
FIRED UP: AC Matthew Parr from
381ECSS reels out a fire hose to
test equipment during the exercise.
Photo: LAC Mark Friend
ACTION STATIONS: Above, 6SQN aircraft technicians work on
an F-111 at RAAF Base Amberley in preparation for ECADEX.
Left, 3SQN aircraft armament technicians AC Chris Meyer and
LAC Tim Chatterton inspect an M61A1 20mm cannon from a
Hornet during the exercise at RAAF Base Williamtown.
Photos: LACs Dan Pinhorn and Craig Barrett
QUICK CHECK: 3SQN pilot
FLTLT Michael Leonard has one
last look around his F/A-18 before
launching. Photo: LAC Craig Barrett
HELPING THEM GO: Right,
LACW Kyra Healy from 381ECSS
prepares for a busy day refuelling
aircraft during ECADEX.
Photo: CPL Dave Gibbs
By FLTLT Skye Smith
IT WAS red force versus blue
force as Air Combat Group's aircrew
were pushed to their limits during the
biennial East Coast Air Defence Ex-
ercise (ECADEX), conducted from
November 16 to December 4.
Red and blue air comprised up to 28
jets; F/A-18s from 3, 75 and 77SQNs,
Hawk 127s from 76SQN and F-111s
from 6SQN, as they battled it out over
the NSW coast between Newcastle and
The scenarios during the first week
of the exercise were scripted to drive
training and familiarise aircrew as blue
force performed simulated defensive
counter-air aimed at protecting the sov-
ereignty of the airspace.
But the gloves came off in the final
week as procedures heightened and
tactics went supersonic, according to
CDR ACG AIRCDRE Neil Hart.
"There were attacks on both sides
during the work-up phase where the
blue force learnt how to spread and
layer their defences," AIRCDRE Hart
said. "Red air's attack was initially
restricted until blue air established
their defence posture. But blue was
put to the test when red evolved into
free play in the three-dimensional air-
3SQN Hornet pilot FLTLT Chris
Baker said the chance to test air
defence skills during exercises such
as ECADEX allowed pilots to train for
certain scenarios and let their competi-
tive nature flourish.
"You need to be very competitive
and determined to operate in these
types of scenarios. You always have to
be on your game," FLTLT Baker said.
2009 is likely to be the last
ECADEX the F-111s participate in
before decommissioning next year and
they certainly made the most of this
milestone showing why they have been
such a vital asset for the Air Force over
the last three decades.
The F-111s conducted maritime
strike training sorties primarily in sup-
port of F/A-18 training objectives that
focused on defensive counter air oper-
ations, according to 6SQN Flight Chief
Instructor FLTLT David Scomazzon.
A typical mission for the F-111
red forces involved executing tactics
as part of a large package of 16 or
more aircraft to test various aspects of
Williamtown's defences, in particular
their air response.
"The F-111s typically fly from
Amberley to marshal with opposing
forces to the northeast of Williamtown,"
FLTLT Scomazzon said.
"These tactics include maritime
strike profiles from both high and low
altitude with the intent of releasing
weapons onto an arbitrary target that
Williamtown is defending."
The exercise also consolidat-
ed training with Surveillance and
Response Group's air traffic control
and battlespace management.
Up to 28 jets launched in two
waves per day from Williamtown and
Amberley, which kept 44WG's air traf-
fic control officers on their guard.
Air traffic control officer FLGOFF
Mark Collins said 44WG Detachment
Williamtown handled up to 100 mili-
tary aircraft movements per day during
ECADEX, while also maintaining air
traffic control services for Newcastle
"The number of Williamtown air-
craft movements during ECADEX was
not significantly higher than normal,"
"But, military movements were
compressed into two waves per day,
making each departure and arrival push
The main challenge for air traffic
control during the exercise was to inte-
grate short notice scramble departures
with other arriving and departing traf-
"Due to the nature of the exercise,
the defending aircraft did not know
when they would be departing or
exactly which direction they would be
"Exercise aircraft were given as
much priority as safely possible by air
traffic control to get them airborne and
into the fight without delay."
ECADEX provided aircrew with
invaluable experience, continuation
training and the opportunity to work
closely with dissimilar aircraft to simu-
late realistic operations.
The next ECADEX is currently
planned for 2011.
on the case
A TEAM from Air
Combat Group and
the Tactical Fighter
Office have formed
the Air Combat
(ACDT) and are
working with the Air
Team to develop a
that maps improve-
into the future.
Initiatives will be
aimed at enhancing
air combat capabil-
ity while delivering
measurable and sus-
The ACDT can be
contacted by email at:
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