France, Australia to jointly send new ammunition to Ukraine.

By Vivienne Machi

France and Australia have committed to jointly provide 155-millimetre ammunition to Ukraine, the nations’ defence ministries announced Tuesday.

French defence contractor Nexter will be tasked to manufacture the artillery shells, while Australia will provide the powder, according to the French Ministry of Defence. The agreement was made during a Jan. 30 meeting between French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu and Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, and their Australian counterparts, Defence Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, in Paris.

The Ukrainian Army has expended roughly 3,000 rounds per day defending its territory against Russia’s invading forces, U.S. defence officials shared last year. Last week, the U.S. Army announced plans to rapidly expand its production capacity of 155mm artillery shells, to meet both Kiev’s demand for ammunition and that of U.S. forces.

The “unprecedented partnership” to build new artillery rounds comes as France and Australia continue to repair diplomatic relations following Australia’s 2021 decision to cancel a multibillion-dollar contract for French-made, diesel-powered submarines and instead join a tri-national partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom – known collectively as AUKUS. That pact is centred on technology collaboration, particularly regarding nuclear reactors for Canberra’s submarines. Australia in June 2022 agreed to pay contractor Naval Group €555 million (U.S. $602 million) in compensation.

At Monday’s meeting, the ministers also signed a declaration of intent between Paris and Canberra on military space cooperation, according to a joint statement. Areas of focus include earth observation, space situational awareness and satellite communication capabilities for defence.

 

France committed last year to supply 18 Nexter-built Caesar howitzers to the Ukrainian Army; on Tuesday, Lecornu announced plans to send an additional 12 Caesars to Kiev in the coming weeks, during a press conference alongside Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Rezniknov in Paris. The howitzers are outfitted with 155mm guns that can fire at ranges of up to 40 kilometres (25 miles). Denmark also recently committed to sending its entire stock of 19 Caesar howitzers to Ukraine.

The deliveries will be supported by a €200 million (U.S. $217 million) fund set up by France’s parliament to support arming Ukraine. On Wednesday, France’s defence ministry plans to sign a deal with technology company Thales to provide the company’s Ground Master 200 multimission radar to Kiev, also supported via the military arms fund, Lecornu shared at the press briefing.

As of October 2022, Australia has provided Ukraine with a total of approximately AUS $655 million (U.S. $462 million) in support, including AUS $475 million in military assistance and at least 90 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, according to Canberra’s Defence Ministry.

 

NATO chief warns China could bring war to region.

The New Daily and AAP

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has warned that China is closely watching the lessons of Russia’s “brute force” invasion of Ukraine and could bring war to the Asian region.

Mr Stoltenberg used strong words to accuse China of “bullying its neighbours” and building up its military forces – including nuclear weapons.

He warned that the Info-Pacific region faced “growing challenges” as authoritarian Beijing pushed back against the international rules-based order.

“China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons. Bullying its neighbours, and threatening Taiwan. Trying to control critical infrastructure. And spreading disinformation about NATO and the war in Ukraine,” said Mr Stoltenberg during a trip to Japan.

“Beijing and Moscow are leading an authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order. The Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from China’s coercive behaviour to provocations by North Korea.

“And in Europe, Russia continues to wage its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. This war is not just a European crisis, but a challenge to the world order.”

Mr Stoltenberg said if Russian President Vladimir Putin won in Ukraine it would “send a message” to China that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through “brute force”.

“This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions,” he warned.

“What is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow. So we must remain united and firm. Standing together for freedom and democracy.”

Mr Stoltenberg was in Japan, which is a member of NATO, and he had earlier visited South Korea.

“The world is at a historical inflection point in the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II,” he said with Japan’s premier Fumio Kishida.

China has previously criticised NATO’s efforts to expand its alliances in Asia.

Russia, which calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special operation”, has repeatedly cast NATO’s expansion as a threat to its security.

Late last year, Japan unveiled sweeping plans to beef up its defence capabilities, changes once unthinkable for a pacifist country that will make it the third-biggest military spender after the United States and China.

Bolstering its co-operation with NATO in areas from maritime security and arms control to cyberspace and disinformation will further help to respond to the changing strategic environment, the statement said.

 

RCB UPDATE – ADVANCE TO CONTACT

Recall the DHAAT Tribunal Hearing video on the 23 November 2022 and the access to all submissions.

And note the critical reporting by News Limited media’s Charles Miranda titled ADF defend pretext to war for 9000 veterans and the Channel 9 TV Program A Current Affair

There have been no hearings or meetings with the Tribunal since the 23 November public hearing in Canberra.

Following that meeting, the Tribunal wrote to the RCBRG with a single question for us to answer on the likelihood of casualties. Our answer to that question sent to the Tribunal on the 23 January can be seen here. Additional supporting responses have been submitted by Graeme Mickleberg, Ken Marsh (RAAF) and Peter Kelly for the RCBVG (Veterans Group)

The Tribunal also wrote to Defence and asked them to answer a whole lot more than one question. The deadline for responding to the Tribunal is 31 January.

According to the Tribunal, the next meeting will be via zoom between DHAAT, Defence, RCBVG and RCBRG at a date yet to be set by the Tribunal.

At that meeting, the Tribunal will indicate whether it requires any more public hearings.

Over the Christmas break, Defence kept up its best practice staff work by providing the Tribunal with hundreds of pages of mostly irrelevant primary documents dating back to at least Korea. There was barely a mention of RCB or Butterworth in any of them. And yet again Defence provided no analysis of the material presented or how it reflected on RCB service. We can only hope that Defence maintains this level of bureaucratic expertise.

We eagerly await Defence’s answers to the Tribunal’s questions.

Watch this space for developments and particularly the date and location for the second Tribunal Hearing.

Know that the Tribunal makes its recommendation to the Minister for Defence Personnel Andrew Keogh for his decision.

Thanks to you, all our supporters, for your submissions and dogged persistence, patience, perseverance, and encouragement over so many years.

Regards,

Ray Fulcher
RCB Service 1979
Chairman RCB Review Group
Date: 31 January 2023
https://recognitionofrcbservice.com/

 

How powerful is the Royal Australian Navy?

How powerful is the Royal Australian Navy? Australia is an island country surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. It has a massive 25000 km of coastline and claims approximately 8150000 square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone.

According to the global firepower index 2022 RAN has 43 ships and in terms of the Naval Fleet it ranked 50 out of 142 countries. In terms of total battle fleet tonnage Australia will rank between 10-15 with approximately 185000 tonnes. The RAN consists of 43 commissioned vessels and over 19000 personnel including 3000 reserve personnel.

The navy is one of the largest and most sophisticated naval forces in the South Pacific region with a significant presence in the Indian Ocean and worldwide operations in support of military campaigns and peacekeeping missions. As of 2022 Royal Australian Navy operates:

2x Canberra class Landing helicopter dock

3x Hobart class Destroyers

8x Anzac class Frigates

6x Collins class Submarines

2x Supply class Replenishment oiler

1x Bay class Landing ship dock

12x Patrol Vessels

4x Huon class Minehunters and 2x Leeuwin class Survey ships.

 

How Powerful Is Royal Australian Navy | Australian Navy | RAN | in English – YouTube

Do you still think about Vietnam?

Author is unknown US veteran

A couple of years ago someone asked me if I still thought about Vietnam. I nearly laughed in their face. How do you stop thinking about it? Every day for the past forty years, I wake up with it – I go to bed with it. This was my response:

“Yeah, I think about it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I never will. But I’ve also learned to live with it. I’m comfortable with the memories. I’ve learned to stop trying to forget and learned instead to embrace it. It just doesn’t scare me anymore.”

A lot of my “brothers” haven’t been so lucky. For them the memories are too painful, their sense of loss too great. My sister told me of a friend she has whose husband was in the Nam. She asks this guy when he was there.

Here’s what he said, “Just last night.” It took my sister a while to figure out what he was talking about. JUST LAST NIGHT. Yeah, I was in the Nam. When? Just last night, before I went to sleep, on my way to work this morning, and over my lunch hour. Yeah, I was there.

My sister says I’m not the same brother who went to Vietnam. My wife says I won’t let people get close to me, not even her. They are probably both right. Ask a vet about making friends in Nam. It was risky. Why? Because we were in the business of death, and death was with us all the time. It wasn’t the death of, “If I die before I wake.” This was the real thing. The kind where boys scream for their mothers. The kind that lingers in your mind and becomes more real each time you cheat it. You don’t want to make a lot of friends when the possibility of dying is that real, that close. When you do, friends become a liability.

A guy named Bob Flanigan was my friend. Bob Flanigan is dead. I put him in a body bag one sunny day, April 29, 1969. We’d been talking, only a few minutes before he was shot, about what we were going to do when we got back to the world. Now, this was a guy who had come in country at the same time as me. A guy who was loveable and generous. He had blue eyes and sandy blond hair.

When he talked, it was with a soft drawl. I loved this guy like the brother I never had. But I screwed up. I got too close to him. I broke one of the unwritten rules of war. DON’T GET CLOSE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO DIE. You hear vets use the term “buddy” when they refer to a guy they spent the war with. “Me and this buddy a mine.”

Friend sounds too intimate, doesn’t it? “Friend” calls up images of being close. If he’s a friend, then you are going to be hurt if he dies, and war hurts enough without adding to the pain. Get close; get hurt. It’s as simple as that. In war, you learn to keep people at that distance my wife talks about. You become so good at it, that forty years after the war, you still do it without thinking. You won’t allow yourself to be vulnerable again.

My wife knows two people who can get into the soft spots inside me – my daughters. I know it bothers her that they can do this. It’s not that I don’t love my wife. I do. She’s put up with a lot of me. She’ll tell you that when she signed on for better or worse, she had no idea there was going to be so much of the latter. But with my daughters it’s different.

My girls are mine. They’ll always be my kids. Not marriage, not distance, not even death can change that. They are something on this earth that can never be taken away from me. I belong to them. Nothing can change that. I can have an ex-wife, but my girls can never have an ex-father. There’s a difference. I can still see the faces, though they all seem to have the same eyes. When I think of us, I always see a line of “dirty grunts” sitting on a paddy dike. We’re caught in the first grey-silver between darkness and light. That first moment when we know we’ve survived another night, and the business of staying alive for one more day is about to begin. There was so much hope in that brief space of time. It’s what we used to pray for. “One more day, God. One more day.”

And I can hear our conversations as if they’d only just been spoken I still hear the way we sounded. The hard cynical jokes, and our morbid senses of humour. We were scared to death of dying and tried our best not to show it.

I recall the smells, too. Like the way cordite hangs in the air after a firefight. Or the pungent odour of rice paddy mud. So different from the black dirt of Iowa. The mud of Nam smells ancient, somehow. Like it’s always been there. And I’ll never forget the way blood smells, sticky and drying on my hands. I spent a long night that way once. That memory isn’t going anywhere.

I remember how the night jungle appears almost dreamlike as the pilot of a Cessna buzzes overhead, dropping parachute flares until morning. That artificial sun would flicker and make shadows run through the jungle. It was worse than not being able to see what was out there sometimes. I remember once looking at the man next to me as a flare floated overhead. The shadows around his eyes were so deep that it looked like his eyes were gone. I reached over and touched him on the arm; without looking at me he touched my hand. “I know man. I know.” That’s what he said. It was a human moment. Two guys a long way from home and scared to death.

God, I loved those guys. I hurt every time one of them died. We all did. Despite our posturing. Despite our desire to stay disconnected, we couldn’t help ourselves. I know why Tim O’Brien writes his stories. I know what gives Bruce Weigle the words to create poems so honest I cry at their horrible beauty. It’s love. Love for those guys we shared the experience with.

We did our jobs like good soldiers, and we tried our best not to become as hard as our surroundings. You want to know what is frightening. It’s a nineteen-year-old-boy who’s had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It’s a boy who, despite all the things he’s been taught, knows that he likes it. It’s a nineteen-year-old who’s just lost a friend, and is angry and scared and, determined that, “some bastards gonna pay”. To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling.

As I write this, I have a picture in front of me. It’s of two young men. On their laps are tablets. One is smoking a cigarette. Both stare without expression at the camera. They’re writing letters. Staying in touch with places they would rather be. Places and people they hope to see again. The picture shares space in a frame with one of my wife. She doesn’t mind. She knows she’s been included in special company. She knows I’ll always love those guys who shared that part of my life, a part she never can. And she understands how I feel about the ones I know are out there yet. The ones who still answer the question, “When were you in Vietnam?”

“Hey, man. I was there just last night.”

 

Ukrainian troops could fight with Leopard 2s by early spring.

Poland has offered to train Ukrainians on its soil using its own Leopards, bypassing Berlin’s reluctance to allow allies to send the heavy tanks to Ukraine. But delivering 300 battle-ready Leopard 2s will not be simple.

By   SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

New training programs in Poland could get some Ukrainian soldiers ready to operate Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks in combat in as few as six weeks, experts told Breaking Defence, although officers and maintenance specialists would take longer. The tanks themselves could be another story.

But if all goes well, and if Berlin then allows its allies to send the German-made MBTs to Ukraine — a decision that Berlin has been waffling on — that means Ukraine theoretically could launch an armoured counter-offensive in early March, just before the spring thaw known as the rasputitsa turns the open steppes into tank-bogging mud.

That optimistic timeline is much quicker than the US Army’s 22-week timeline to turn a new recruit into a tanker worthy to graduate the “schoolhouse” Fort Benning, Ga., and join an operational unit, where the recruit would keep training the rest of their career. The “One Station Unit Training” (OSUT) at Benning used to be 15 weeks until the Army decided that was not enough.

But Ukraine needn’t send its new recruits. They have thousands of veteran tankers, hardened by 11 months of the fiercest fighting in Europe since World War II. They have thousands more mechanics and logisticians, honed by the desperate struggle to keep a hodgepodge of Western and Soviet combat vehicles in fighting form. They have commanders and staff officers used to planning and coordinating armoured warfare.

These veterans would not need to learn the basics: how a tank needs constant maintenance, how it needs careful driving on bad ground to avoid throwing a track — the armoured behemoths can be surprisingly delicate — or how the huge machines can hide behind buildings, woods, or even subtle undulations of the seemingly flat steppes, then lash out in an ambush. But they would need to learn the Leopard II, which — like the American M1 Abrams, the British Challenger, and other modern Western tanks — is much bigger, heavier, better-armoured, and more high-tech than the Soviet-derived designs they’re used to. That affects everything from crew size (four instead of three) to what bridges can support their weight, from how the gun is loaded (manually instead of automatically) to how supply lines and advances must be planned.

“This is not like simply learning a few new incremental upgrades between similar Russian designs, as when a Ukrainian tanker moves from a T-64 over to a T-80 or captured T-90,” said Matthew Dooley, a retired Army armour officer now with Robotic Research. “This means learning to operate, drive, shoot, and maintain a tank that comes from a design philosophy in the West that’s wholly different from the old Soviet engineering approach.”

So how long would it take, when the pressure is on, and Russia is racing to mobilize more manpower for its own renewed offensive?

Having adopted a host of Western and captured Russian systems on the fly, “Ukrainians have demonstrated remarkable tech savvy and the ability to learn very quickly,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of US Army Europe. “Given that and… a more compressed training program” – so, no weekends or evenings off – “I’m estimating that experienced Ukrainian tankers will need about one-third to a half of the time that is normally required for a new soldier going through OSUT.” That comes out at about seven to eleven weeks.

“Overall, it will take two or three months to train Ukraine personnel,” said Nicholas Drummond, a former British Army tank officer and now a consultant. “I wouldn’t want to do it in any less time.”

“Leopard 2 was designed to be used by conscript soldiers” — the German Bundeswehr retained the draft long after the US — “so it is relatively easy to train crews to use them,” Drummond added. “The more challenging requirement is training support teams to maintain the tanks.”

“You’ve got to train not only the tank crews, but you also then have to train all of the maintainers,” agreed retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe. “Then you’ve got to go in and you’ve got to train their staffs.”

“You can truncate that down [to], say, eight weeks to train an experienced armour crew member…but you can’t train them all at once,” said Donahoe, who once commanded the Fort Benning training centre. “You need to establish the school” — presumably at an existing Polish base — “where you could bring Ukrainian tankers from their current units where they’re fighting, train them up, and get them back into Ukraine.”

“Say a month and a half to two months per individual, [but] three or four or five months to build a larger body to train soldiers,” Donahoe concluded.

Other experts were more optimistic about fast the veteran Ukrainian tankers could make the leap to Leopards. Depending on how quickly the vets caught on, Defence Acquisition University Prof. Marc Meeker, a former Army officer, said “4 to 11 weeks would cover training for those who caught on quickly and those who needed remedial training.”

“One could train new crews up to a basic level of proficiency in about five or six weeks,” said Dooley. Maintainers would take a similar period, he said, “[but] for the Ukrainian junior officers and non-commissioned officers, it may take another two to three weeks of additional time” to learn Western tactics.

“The complexity of Ukrainian military operations is relatively low” compared to high-speed, long-range blitzkriegs the US waged in 1991 and 2003, said retired three-star general Thomas Spoehr, now with the Heritage Foundation. “I think four to six weeks would be fine.”

One current Army officer, who asked to remain anonymous, agreed with that four-to-six-week estimate.

Some highly specialized repair technicians, however, might take “a year,” warned Jon Jeckell, a retired Army officer with extensive experience with tank maintenance. “That’s basic proficiency, and not with all of the tacit knowledge of a senior technician that develops an intuitive sense for problems, knows how to troubleshoot, and can improvise.” So, for some time, if certain high-tech components break — like the laser rangefinders essential to accurate long-range fire — Ukraine will have to send them back to Poland, Germany, or another country with infrastructure to support the Leopard II.

Fortunately for Ukraine, several European nations have that infrastructure, because the Leopard II is the most widely exported Western main battle tank of modern times. Many countries bought them second-hand from the Bundeswehr during its downsizing in the 1990s.

All told, said Meeker, who worked extensively with the Bundeswehr during his time in the Army, “the Leopard Benutzer (LEOBEN) user community…  consists of 31 countries headed up by Germany’s BAAINBw,” the office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support. After the 1990s sell-off, he said, “Germany has only around 300 Leopards, but there are literally thousands of Leopards around the world, in Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, North/South America, and Asia.”

On the downside, the Bundeswehr’s own Leopards may be in bad shape, because the German budget has short-changed the military in general and basic maintenance in particular for over a decade. Other European armies are a mixed bag.

“Austria, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, and Spain… were all reluctant to provide their Leopard tanks,” said Drummond. “In many cases this was because their fleets were old and needed to be upgraded.” To get the 300 tanks Ukraine has asked for into fighting shape, he worried, might take “three to six months.”

 

Changing the law is not easy.

by Eric Abetz – Former Federal Senator

Changing the law is not easy. Nor should it be. Serious consequences flow.

But surely changing our Constitution should be more difficult as even more serious consequences might flow.

In 2016 Australians faced a double dissolution election on three pieces of legislation all of which I happened to have drafted.

Before a double dissolution election could be held every single word, letter, comma and full stop had been tabled and analysed for the world to see, discuss and debate.

SCRUTINY

The Bills were open to full scrutiny. That is at it should be. Our fellow Australians are entitled to know the detail of the matter on which MPs are casting a vote.

However, the proposed change to our Constitution to insert the so-called Voice lacks detail. At best it is a napkin sketch devoid of any genuine substance.

Without the fundamentally essential detail, debate is limited to virtue signalling, slogans and superficiality.

As such a huge disservice is being done to the Australian people on an issue the proponents tell us is of real importance to our unity as a nation.

Yet without the detail there can be no assessment of its worthiness, workability or unintended consequences.

And without that importantly vital input the Australian people would be giving the proponents a blank cheque. Never a good idea. Especially not to Canberra.

And it is not as though the proponents have not had enough time to flesh out their proposal. It’s been around as a concept for five years.

With the amount of taxpayer largesse laid on to assist, Australians are entitled to have expected more. A lot more.

Australians are rightly cynical of political platitudes and have a good instinct when it comes to detecting superficiality.

LEVEL

The proponents need to level with the Australian people.

First, we are entitled to know the detail, the whole detail. Nothing less.

Second, the proponents need to explain why a change to our Constitution is even needed to implement their plan and how that change will actually deliver better outcomes to reduce indigenous disadvantage.

Floating noble goals does not deliver results. Practical Australians suspect actions rather than grandiose referenda will do the delivering so needed in our indigenous communities.

Thirdly, a full and free campaign giving both sides the opportunity to be heard is essential for a fair outcome which can be accepted by the people irrespective of the outcome.

As such equal support and funding to both the YES and NO cases is obligatory. To do otherwise will be ham-fisted and divisive.

FAIR

The above three essential requirements are needed for fairness and acceptance of the result as being a fair expression of the Australian people’s view.

Failure to deliver in all three areas will rightly confirm to the astute Australian that The Voice is, at best, vacuous virtue-signalling by elitists.

It will be a violation of voters’ rights to a fair presentation of the YES and NO cases and, therefore, deserves to be vetoed.

 

Nuclear thermal rocket to power NASA’s long-duration spaceflights

By Robert Doughtery

Nuclear thermal rocket engines could expand possibilities for the next generation of long-duration spaceflight missions, according to a partnership between NASA and DARPA.

The two government organisations are developing a Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program to improve sending cargo to a new lunar base, humans to Mars, and robotic missions further.

A nuclear thermal rocket (NTR)-enabled spacecraft is planned to be tested for Earth orbit during the 2027 fiscal year, according to a DARPA announcement on 24 January.

Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director Dr Stefanie Tompkins said, “DARPA and NASA have a long history of fruitful collaboration in advancing technologies for our respective goals, from the Saturn V rocket that took humans to the moon for the first time to robotic servicing and refuelling of satellites.

“The space domain is critical to modern commerce, scientific discovery, and national security.

“The ability to accomplish leap-ahead advances in space technology through the DRACO nuclear thermal rocket program will be essential for more efficiently and quickly transporting material to the moon and eventually, people to Mars.”

Nuclear thermal rockets have a thrust-to-weight ratio of around 10,000 times greater than electric propulsion and have two-to-five times greater efficiency than in-space chemical propulsion.

Highly enriched uranium was previously tested for NTR before the 1980s, however, the project will instead be using high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel.

The fission process will be like those used for nuclear power — heat will be created by splitting atoms, passed from the reactor along its rocket propellant and then used to turn rocket propellant such as hydrogen from liquid to gas.

Engineers will also configure the system to activate the engine’s fission reaction only once it reaches space, as a safety feature. Advanced materials will be used to tolerate the proposed solid core NTR temperatures of almost 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson congratulated both teams on the exciting investment for the future.

“NASA will work with our long-term partner, DARPA, to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027,” he said.

With the help of this new technology, astronauts could journey to and from deep space faster than ever; a major capability to prepare for crewed missions to Mars.”

DRACO DARPA program manager Dr Tabitha Dodson said the project has also received support from the US Space Force, with the intent to provide the launch for the demonstration mission.

“NASA is uniquely positioned to provide guidance on the challenging rocket engine and cryogenic fluid management specifications with liquid hydrogen to meet specific mission needs,” Dr Dodson said.

“Since the NTR uses propellant more efficiently, it offers more aggressive trajectories and creative burn profiles to move heavy cargo more quickly in the cislunar domain as compared to today’s in-space propulsion methods.

“We will conduct several experiments with the reactor at various power levels while in space, sending results back to operators on Earth, before executing the full-power rocket engine test remotely.

“These tests will inform the approach for future operation of NTR engines in space.”

 

 

RAAF joins Japanese and American aircraft exercises in Guam.

By: Robert Dougherty

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-27J Spartan transport aircraft have begun arriving in Guam for the Cope North 23 multinational task force exercise.

More than 100 Japanese, American, French and RAAF aircraft will fly 1,200 sorties in operations overseen by the command and control multinational task force from 8 to 24 February.

Cope North 23 (CN23) focuses on enhancing security and stability for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, through integration of allies and partners for large-force employment, agile combat employment, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.

RAAF Task Group Commander, Group Captain Robert Graham said CN23 will be an excellent opportunity to consolidate and further enhance interoperability with the United States and Japan.

“Exercise Cope North 23 will provide training opportunities and invaluable experience for our people in a challenging scenario, and we are looking forward to working with our friends from the United States and Japan again,” GPCAPT Graham said.

“We are focused on deepening relationships and strengthening engagement with the United States Pacific Air Forces and the Japan Air Self-Defence Force.”

Operations will be launched from Andersen Air Force Base, Won Pat International Airport, and Northwest Field as well as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for the US Pacific Air Forces’ largest multilateral exercise.

“A testing scenario involving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief will drive a range of planning and logistics challenges which will need our combined capability with the United States and Japan to deliver credible responses,” GPCAPT Graham said.

“The RAAF is committed to developing capable and skilled aviators — exercises such as Cope North provide an excellent opportunity to train as a combined force with our allies and partners, improving our ability to deliver air power when and where required.”

The exercise will also reinforce humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training to support any type of disaster in the Indo-Pacific region.

CN23 exercises were originally established in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base in Japan before moving to Andersen Air Force Base in 1999.

This year marks the 13th year the RAAF will travel to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to participate in Exercise Cope North.