Home' Air Force News : February 2nd 2012 Contents 14
Air Lift Group went on red alert last December for its final exercise of 2011, repo
has again served as the
proving ground for Air
Force personnel deploying
Exercises Precision Red 11-2
(for air lift) and Precision Support
11-2 (for combat support) were
held last year from November 23 to
They involved 474 personnel at
RAAF Base Townsville and three
deployed airfields in the Townsville
and Shoalwater Bay Field Training
Areas, and featured a variety of sce-
narios and threats encountered on
operations in the MEAO.
Precision Red is the capstone
of a six-month C-130J conversion
course for pilots at 285SQN.
Coordinating the effort at
Precision Red was FLTLT Scott Van
Ginkel, an instructor with the squad-
ron.He said the exercise represented
what Air Force was experiencing in
"Guys who finished their course
in December will be posted to a
C-130J flight at 37SQN, and could
be deployed to the MEAO soon
afterwards," he said.
The exercise calls for tactics
and operations staff to plan lengthy
missions to the exercise area, and
around-the-clock support from the
37SQN maintenance workforce.
"We qualified four C-130J crews
ready to go to the Middle East,"
FLTLT Van Ginkel said.
"We also qualified four instruc-
tors to teach airborne operations
sequences on Precision Red."
This entailed qualified flying
instructors at 285SQN being cleared
to teach new crews the airborne
operations roles undertaken in the
Instructors must impart their
experiences from the MEAO to face
such challenges as operating on
night-vision goggles (NVGs) to semi-
prepared airfields while navigating
ground-borne threats and airspace
Loadmasters were also chal-
lenged, including monitoring for
ground-borne threats and reconfig-
uring the load for the Hercules for
The exercise also helped develop
new capabilities for the Hercules.
"We are developing our low-level
night-time capability with the C-130J
on NVGs, which meant operating
almost around-the-clock," FLTLT Van
While much of the focus was on
the Hercules, 36SQN also provided
a C-17A for the exercise to test new
The aircraft flew missions from
RAAF Base Townsville to Williamson
Airfield in Shoalwater Bay, with a
new captain and an instructor on
One instructor with 36SQN is
MAJ Larry Gabe, a C-17A pilot on
exchange from the US Air Force.
He said 36SQN used Precision
Red as a part of its mission readi-
ness exercise, which provided the
training necessary for aircrew to
upgrade to combat mission ready
"The real benefit of an exercise
like Precision Red is being able to
consolidate all of the skills learned
in training and apply them in a very
realistic, dynamic combat environ-
ment," MAJ Gabe said.
"Operating into a small, covertly
lit airstrip at night, on NVGs, while
dealing with a dynamic threat situa-
tion and delivering real cargo to sup-
port the exercise -- it's challenging."
Williamson Airfield is a tight fit for
a C-17A and the aircraft is too big for
the parking apron.
Pilots and loadmasters worked
together to reverse the aircraft
back up the runway for loading and
"It speaks volumes about our
training system that operations like
these are simply business as usual
for 36SQN," MAJ Gabe said. "We
have crews doing this every day."
HEAVY LIFTERS: Above,
36SQN C-17A aircrew
prepare for the approach into
Williamson Airfield during
Exercise Precision Red; right,
the C-17A on the airfield
after returning from another
exercise sortie; left, 37SQN
avionic technician LAC Tim
Bowman in a C-130 cockpit
at RAAF Base Townsville.
SOFTLY DOES IT: A C-130J lands
on the dirt runway at Bennings
Field during Precision Red.
the loads on
a C-17A as
it heads to
MISSION READY: 37SQN's
CPL Sean Lloyd and SGT Bruce
Northcott conduct a pre-flight
inspection on a C-130J at RAAF
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