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Exercise Precision Red—Combat Training

By LAC Aimee Wright

Evening approach: The RAAF C-130 J Hercules aircraft the RNZAF ALT facilitated at remote airfield, Sam Hill. (WN-10-0002-095).
Evening approach

Nine Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel deployed to Townsville on 18 June to participate in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Exercise Precision Red 2010. The Exercise enabled C-130 J Hercules pilots and aircrew to gain combat training and qualifications in preparation for deployment to the Middle East. It also provided the RNZAF Air Terminal Units a chance to learn new skills and how to operate under pressure and in harsher conditions. Leading Aircraftman Aimee Wright was there.

When we first arrived in Townsville five days were spent standardising our procedures with the Australians and learning some new ‘tricks’. We also managed to fit in some hard out Physical Training (PT) sessions by the pool.

From Townsville we left on a C-130 J Hercules to Rockhampton where the rest of our Australian contingent (23 personnel) were waiting to convey us into our home for the next two weeks—Sam Hill Airfield. Heavy rain greeted our day of set-up, but this didn’t faze ‘us Kiwis’! Within two days, we had created a fully operational air movements terminal, complete with air to ground communications, an operations tent, a passenger tent and even a ‘Joe room’ area to rest between flights.

Four days into our Exercise we went live, with flights starting on 28 June. From here we were into it with Engine Running On Loads and Off Loads (ERO’s). Most of the team had never been a part of ERO’s before so that in itself was an experience, but on top of that we were delivered with a lot of unexpected situations. Flights would turn up with next to no notification with on loads and off loads changing meaning we had to be flexible, ready to move and fill in any role as things came up.

We got stuck into all aspects of running an Air Movements Terminal, with a load team out on the tarmac and an operations team in charge of all communication and paperwork. This also meant we all had to be retrained in our Radio (RATEL) discipline and procedures.

During this first week of the Exercise we learned the importance of being proactive so that we could respond quickly. Communicating with each other was crucial, otherwise there was potential for operations to fall apart.

On top of our daily operations, PT was a must. Every morning at 0630hrs, before we started our working day, we were up and running—literally! It proved to be one of the best parts of our day—and we got to show the Aussies ‘what we Kiwis are made of’!

We all adapted well to the Aussie life style and managed to glean some of the Aussie’s Air Movements tricks. We headed home from the Exercise with a lot more experience and confidence in what we do and how much we already know.

More importantly, we showed our Anzac buddies what a fun but professional and adaptable team the RNZAF sent over.

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