Monday, July 19, 2021

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 Live Fire Demonstration at Shoalwater Bay with RAAF F/A-18 'Classic' Hornets and Australian Army and US Marines Helicopters

On Sunday 18 July, we were invited to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) to join with VIPs and other media to observe a live-fire exercise as part of the ongoing joint military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21).  Strikes were conducted from sea, land and air onto Townshend Island and Pyri Pyri.

Prior to the demonstration, we were briefed by Australian Army soldiers from the 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, about the RBS-70 Man-Portable Air Defence Missile System which was used to take down targets in the days previous.

We were then briefed about the United States Army M901 Patriot Launching Stations and Radar.  In a first for Australia, Patriot missiles were fired in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area earlier in the week.

Defence Image...

The VIPs arrived from Rockhampton Airport on board a pair of Australian Army Boeing CH-47F 'Foxtrot' Chinook helicopters A15-302 and A15-307, supported by Australian Army Eurocopter Tiger ARH helicopter A38-010.  They were heard flying as "Chainsaw / Angry Combined".

At sea, an attack onto Townshend Island by the five-inch guns of HMAS Ballarat and USS Rafael Peralta started the firepower demonstration.  HMAS Parramatta and Japanese destroyer JS Makinami then opened fire with guns of their own, continuing the bombardment.

Back over the display area at Pyri Pyri, US Marine Corps Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter 169098 (EP-45) and Bell UH-1Y Venom (Super Huey) helicopter 168408 (EP-35) "Rambo 11" launched an attack towards Mount Phipps, with the Viper launching its 20mm rockets.

They also moved to Townshend Island where the Venom attacked with its minigun, fast-firing .50-calibre rounds and rockets.  Both helicopters then returned to the USS America (LHA-6).

Australian Army Eurocopter (ARH) Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters A38-004 and A38-006 as "Angry" then arrived from Rockhampton Airport and unleashed their 30mm rockets before dropping flares and then firing a stream of .30-calibre rounds.

They also launched Hellfire missiles over the water at Townshend Island.

A 1000-pound bomb exploded by the base of Mount Phipps announced an attack run by two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet jets A21-47 and A21-52 that flew down from Townsville as "Magpie".

They tore through the sky above the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, with loud “burrrrrrrrr” sounds resonating through the area as they strafed with 25mm cannons.

With air attack complete, ground-shaking booms erupted as nine US and Australian M777 Howitzers opened fire, before crews raced each other to launch their remaining nine, high-explosive rounds.

US Army and Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HiMARS) emerged from hiding and together fired a stream of about 20 rockets beyond Mount Phipps.

With the demonstration over, we were able to have a closer look over the HiMARS systems vehicles.

Interviews were conducted.

Soon, the VIPs departed back to Rockhampton Airport again on board Chinooks A15-302 and A15-307, this time supported by Tigers A38-004 and A38-006, again as "Chainsaw / Angry Combined".

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21) is the largest bilateral training activity between Australia and the United States, commencing on July 14 2021. Held every two years, TS21 aims to test Australian interoperability with the United States and other participating forces in complex warfighting scenarios. In addition to the United States, TS21 involves participating forces from Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The exercise includes a Field Training Exercise incorporating force preparation (logistic) activities, amphibious landings, ground force manoeuvres, urban operations, air combat and maritime operations. Activities will peak from 18-31 July across Queensland. 

A fantastic day and a great opportunity to view some of the military's fire power.

Our sincere thanks to Defence Media for the opportunity.

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