US stages drill with allies as it seeks to counter Chinese missile threat

Drills will include air combat exercises designed to improve ability to use smaller airfields in case its main bases come under attack.

The joint exercise at the Andersen Air Force Base, known as Cope North 2021, started on Wednesday and will run until February 19 and will see the base hosting F-35A joint strike fighters for the first time.
The exercise kicks off with an exercise designed to improve the three countries’ ability to carry out humanitarian operations in response to a natural disaster in the region, according to a statement from the US air force in the Pacific.
It also includes air combat drills designed to improve their flexibility and common communications ability.

one commander had said that one aim was to improve the forces’ ability to operate from small, rough airfields with limited facilities – also known as austere airfields– a move analysts said was designed to make it harder to “wipe out” US air power with missile attacks on major bases.

Training down under: B-1s, B-2s take part in combined exercise with U.S. Marines, Aussies

JTACs from the U.S. Marine Corps and Australian Defence Force practiced carrying out airstrikes with the bombers, and the bombers also practiced dynamic targeting at the Australian bombing ranges.

The bombers conducted a series of sorties throughout August as part of a combined task force with the Australian Defence Force and Marine Rotational Force–Darwin, Pacific Air Forces said in a Thursday news release.

B-2s from the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron — which is part of the 509th Bomb Wing — deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base to Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia Aug. 12. They then flew multiple 4,000-mile sorties from the Indian Ocean island to Australia, PACAF said. They operated over the Delamere, Bradshaw and Mount Bundley training areas in North Australia.

The B-2s conducted low passes to provide air-to-ground coverage for the Marines, who called in air strikes using both traditional and modern forms of target location and communication, the release said. The B-2s at times dropped live munitions to demonstrate their precision strike abilities, PACAF said.

“It’s imperative that the U.S. Marine Corps and Australian Army work together,” said Australian Army Sgt. Aaron Costes with a straight face.

Major RAAF military exercise Pitch Black cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions

PITCH Black, the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest international air engagement exercise, has been shot down by COVID-19.

Australian Defence confirmed on Tuesday that the Territory military exercise will not be conducted this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Pitch Black hosts up to 3500 personnel and up to 120 aircraft from around the globe including participants from Australia, Canada, France (New Caledonia), Germany, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and the United States.

Japan was to be participating for the first time in 2020.

The cancellation of Pitch Black follows on the back of the announcement that Australia’s largest army exercise for this year, Exercise Hamel, has been cancelled. 

$1bn Tindal base in NT for  jet fighters as F-35 rollout fast-tracked

More than $1b additional investment in making us reliant on the USA: major runway extensions, fuel stockpiles and engineering will be designed to support “Code E” large aircraft, such as US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers and RAAF KC-30 air-to-air refuellers.

Mr Morrison told The Australian the $1.1bn spending comes on top of almost $500m that had ­already been planned for Tindal.

Under the US Force Posture Initiative signed in 2011 by the ­Gillard government and Obama administration, the US and Austral­ia committed to joint funding for military infrastructure project­s of about $2bn.

This included an increase in the annual rotation of US marines through Darwin to about 2000. The Tindal program will be funded under Australia’s contrib­ution, after the US announced it would spend $305m in upgrading infrastructure in Darwin

“These are (the) sorts of things you can do when you manage money well and invest in priorities of keeping Australia safe and building the capability of our defenc­e forces.” #FFS

US air power is growing alongside Marine Corps in Australia’s Northern Territory

The Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative focused this year on fifth-generation fighter integration, aero-medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance.

Thousands of U.S. Marines on an Australian Army base this summer might be the most visible example of America’s growing military presence Down Under. But the nations’ air forces are growing equally close under a lesser-known program known as Enhanced Air Cooperation, or EAC.

The initiative, which kicked off in 2017, focused this year on fifth-generation fighter integration, aero-medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance. It involved U.S. F-22 Raptor, F-35B Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle fighters, B-52 strategic bombers and C-130J Super Hercules transports.

The Air Force’s activities in the Northern Territory, along with those of the Marines, are being supported with $2 billion worth of new military infrastructure funded by the U.S. and Australia, according to the Australian Defence Force.

At RAAF Darwin, for example, $88.65 million worth of projects have been awarded to build fuel tanks, expand the airfield and erect maintenance facilities.

These and other projects at RAAF Darwin are scheduled to be accomplished by 2023

“The major motivator for U.S. force restructure and redeployment on the western Pacific rim is China. It’s as simple as that”