At remote ranges in northern Australia this summer, US Marines and Australian troops trained to guide US bombers to targets on far-flung islands, illustrating the Corps’ increasing focus on a potential war in the Pacific.
In August, Marines flew RQ-21A Blackjack drones in Australia for the first time as part of the month-long Exercise Loobye.
During the exercise, US B-1 bombers from Guam and B-2s out of Diego Garcia flew as far as 4,000 miles to the Delamere, Bradshaw, and Mount Bundley training areas in northern Australia, simulating long-range precision strikes. The bombers were supported by tankers flying out of Okinawa.
RQ-21s flew over the ranges to gather information before and after the airstrikes.
“We’ve done an awful lot with the US Marine Corps,” Houston said. “They basically are the only nation that really gets a chance to routinely mount an exercise invasion of Australia, and that relationship … has served us incredibly well.”