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August 15, 2013
AUSTRALIAN Super Hornet pilots
could be forgiven for thinking it was
a US KC-30A refuelling them during
Exercise Talisman Saber 13 (TS13).
The reality was that 33SQN made
its KC-30A debut at TS13 with two
US Air Force (USAF) exchange offic-
ers serving alongside their Australian
USAF exchange pilot MAJ
Keegan Maple served as 33SQN's
detachment commander for TS13.
Fellow USAF exchange member
Tech Sergeant (TSGT) Lindsay Moon
served as the air refuelling operator
on several 33SQN missions.
Throughout the exercise,
KC-30As from 33SQN operated
from RAAF Base Amberley to refuel
1SQN Super Hornets off the coast of
MAJ Maple said 33SQN sup-
ported 12 consecutive days of tasking
for the exercise.
"33SQN supported the exercise
with 14 missions and achieved a mis-
sion reliability rate of 100 per cent,"
MAJ Maple said.
"We refuelled 72 fighter aircraft
and offloaded about 258 metric
tonnes of fuel during the air-to-air
Tanker makes a debut
THE AIR UP THERE:
Hornets prepare to
refuel off the coast
of Queensland for a
Talisman Saber 13
mission; below the
refuelling takes place.
Photo: SSGT Rachelle
Coleman; below photo
On the hunt for subs
FLTLT Bruce Chalmers
RENOWNED as one of the best maritime
patrol and surveillance aircraft in the world,
the AP-3C proved its worth on Exercise
Talisman Saber 13.
Pilot on one of the AP-3Cs, FLTLT Nick
Chapman, said hunting submarines was a
primary role for the aircraft.
"The Orion has played a very significant
part in the exercise," FLTLT Chapman said.
"In confined waters the submarine has
an advantage. Our job has been to deter and
detect submarines to allow safe passage for
"We have just loved getting out there to
hunt for subs."
On a suspected submarine sighting dur-
ing the exercise, sonobuoys were deployed
to detect enemy submarines.
Sensor employment manager FLTLT
Kim Longhurst then collated the informa-
tion gained from the airborne electronic
analysts and delivered it to the tactical
10SQN pilot FLTLT Russell Adams
said this was critical.
"The tactical coordinator keeps the
aircraft on course and in range of the sono-
SURVEILLANCE: An Air Force AP-3C heads out on a
maritime patrol mission during Exercise Talisman Saber
13. Inset, navigator FLGOFF Tristan Hull, of 10SQN,
maps out a course.
Photos: LACW Nicci Freeman
The KC-30A missions extended to
providing strategic airlift of TS13 par-
ticipants throughout the Pacific, with
33SQN also supporting real-world
tasking during the exercise.
The last time 33SQN supported
Talisman Saber was June 2007 when
it deployed to RAAF Base Townsville
with the Boeing 707.
Earlier this year, the KC-30A was
cleared to refuel Australian Super
Hornets, and will probably extend
its refuelling services to US military
aircraft on future Talisman Saber
At TS13, MAJ Maple said 33SQN
was able to provide direct contribu-
tions to coalition operations.
"The KC-30A was fully integrated
into the coalition environment, often
operating in very close proximity to
USAF tankers, US Navy and Marine
Corps strike aircraft, surface vessels
and ground forces," MAJ Maple said.
"Talisman Saber was also a very
dynamic exercise and 33SQN dis-
played the ability to provide fast,
efficient and responsive air support
when called upon, sometimes at very
"Men and women of 33SQN
worked at all hours of the day to
ensure jets were prepped and air-
crews were ready to launch whenever
TSGT Moon likewise emphasised
the importance of TS13's training
"One of our greatest takeaways
from Talisman Saber was the ability
of our tanker aircraft to operate in
the same, close airspace with allied
forces, in a safe manner," TSGT
"Our next step is to continue
working on the ability to interface
between aircraft, and not just fly in
the same airspace, so that all allied
planes can refuel from each other."
TSGT Moon has served with
33SQN on exchange since January
2011, with his USAF experience
proving an essential part of bringing
the KC-30A into service.
"Much of the technology being
developed on the KC-30A is state of
the art, or the first time something of
its kind has been done," he said.
"The RAAF remains very flex-
ible and is very good at tailoring its
requirements and procedures to a
Participation in TS13 also
allowed 33SQN to achieve its own
C-Flight Commander for 33SQN,
SQNLDR Paul Bryan, said the exer-
cise allowed two pilots to step-up to
"The two pilots under training
have just completed a five-month
KC-30A simulator course at the
KC-30A Training Centre," SQNLDR
"The simulator course is followed
by practical missions in the aircraft
to reach proficiency in the opera-
"TS13 provided us with an ideal
opportunity for the pilots under train-
ing to plan and execute a standard
air-to-air refuelling mission and
achieve course aims.
"These members are now quali-
fied to operate on training and actual
missions to support Classic and
buoys," FLTLT Adams said.
"Information gathered helps the
Aircraft Control Unit (ACU) in the
carrier strike group to assess the prob-
abilities of the submarine's location.
"These probabilities help the ACU
determine the tasking for AP-3Cs and
defines the areas to be searched."
Missions during the exercise were
typically long and constant radio
transmissions were heard as crew and
ACU communicated to effectively
execute the mission.
The AP-3C Orions operated out
of RAAF Base Townsville during the
Talisman Saber 13
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