By Eamon Hamilton
Canadian Hercules crews recently visited their Australian counterparts to share knowledge and fly a combined airlift training mission.
On September 9, 2016, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-130J Hercules flew a tactical formation mission with a No. 37 Squadron C-130J from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Richmond in New South Wales, Australia.
|A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J Hercules flies over the coast of Sydney, Australia, on September 9, 2016. PHOTO: Corporal Oliver Carter © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence|
The RCAF Hercules, from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, was originally in Australia on a separate airlift support task.
On the ground, both countries received considerable value from the visit, according to 37 Squadron pilot, Flight Lieutenant Shaun Wilkinson.
“We’re in the initial stages of having a tactical formation procedure that we can conduct with a coalition C-130J crew,” Flight Lieutenant Wilkinson said.
“There are some common procedures that we can use already, but this week allowed us to practice it in a real aircraft.”
The flight from Richmond wasn’t the first time this year that Canadian and Hercules crews have flown together.
During Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag in August, both countries used their Hercules Full-Flight Mission Simulators to fly together in a series of online missions.
The timing of the Canadian visit also allowed Flight Lieutenant Wilkinson to share recent experiences by RAAF Hercules crews in using the Link-16 networking system at Exercise Pitch Black 16.
“Canada is about to introduce Link-16 networking to their aircraft, so this has been a useful chance to share information,” Flight Lieutenant Wilkinson said.
The Link-16 network system provides a battlespace picture to an aircraft crew, allowing them to receive information or share it with others connected to the network.
Exercise Pitch Black 16 in August marked the debut of an RAAF Hercules installed with Link-16 connectivity.
Captain Corey Gallagher from the RCAF’s 426 Transport Training Squadron, located at 8 Wing, said the Australian experience would prove valuable for his Air Force.
“The opportunity to share information about Link-16 is huge for us,” said he said.
“We've just got the Link-16 kit installed, but have not had the chance to test, evaluate, and run the training for it.
“The interoperability that we’ve been ale to accomplish with 37 Squadron this week has been valuable, especially as we head in to Exercise Bullseye,” he continued
Taking place in late September, Exercise Bullseye will be conducted by the RCAF, and involve participants from the RAAF and the Royal Air Force.
From 8 Wing Trenton, Hercules from all three countries will conduct a series of tactical airlift missions, including airdrop and tactical formation flying.
Eamon Hamilton is a communications adviser with the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group.