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C-17 airlifters from the UK, US and Australia gathered at RAAF Base Amberley in November to participate in Exercise Global Dexterity 23-2.

The exercise began in 2019 and held twice each year, designed to foster ties between No.36 Squadron RAAF and the US Air Force’s 535th Airlift Squadron based in Hawaii, while providing an opportunity for both aircrew and maintenance personnel to build relationships. However Global Dexterity 23-2 was notable in that the Royal Air Force sent an aircraft and crews from Brize Norton in the UK for the first time.

Held between 27 November and 8 December, the exercise involved low-level formation training around RAAF Base Richmond in NSW, air-to-air refuelling from RAAF KC-30A multi-role tanker transports (MRTT) and deployments to RAAF Townsville and the Scherger bare base on Cape York Peninsula.

While practising deployed operations from Scherger, high-level para insertion and equipment extraction sorties were also flown to Momote airfield in Papua New Guinea.

“The main aim of the exercise is really to ensure that we are able to operate together as tactical units,” Wing Commander Scott Hyland, Commanding Officer of 36 Sqn told ADM at the conclusion of the exercise.

“So, we’re really testing our aircrew and our maintenance interoperability, sharing our tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and learning how to plan and execute missions together.”

This interoperability extended to ‘interfly’ opportunities during Global Dexterity, which saw aircrew members from all three services flying as part of the crew of another nation’s aircraft.

“From our perspective, I see a few things that have been very valuable for the 535th Airlift Squadron,” Colonel Mike Lewis Operations Commander of the US Air Force’s 15th Wing, added. “The interoperability that we get from this exercise is second to none. For instance, today we had the culminating flight with the three nations’ aircraft and on board each aircraft were aircrew members from nation – and they were all occupying primary duty stations.”

Although Global Dexterity 23-2 was the first time 99 Sqn – the RAF’s C-17 operating unit – had fully participated, it had previously sent observers to gain an understanding of the objectives of the exercise.

“We’re very grateful for 36 Sqn RAAF and the USAF for inviting us on the exercise,” commented Wing Commander Will Essex, Commanding Officer of 99 Sqn RAF. “For us the primary aim was training for and demonstrating that interoperability with the key partner nations in the USA and Australia. That’s interoperability of our people, our platform and the capabilities (and) we gained a much greater understanding of each other’s TTPs by fully integrating in the joint planning and execution of the mission.

“The interfly element was absolutely amazing for us to see. We have exchange programs with other nations, but we’ve never actually done interfly like this – where we literally just arrived and embedded personnel with each other’s crews. It is absolutely the best way to train and integrate for the future.”


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