552nd Air Control Wing integrates with Australia

  • Published
  • By 2d Lt Ashlyn K. Paulson

Time zones couldn’t stop the 552nd Air Control Wing from visiting the Royal Australian Air Force in September 2019.

The 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron represented the 552nd ACW and traveled to RAAF Base Williamtown, Australia to integrate and train with the RAAF after they visited Tinker Air Force Base in 2018.

While the 552nd ACW operates the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System, the RAAF operates the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. These two aircraft are similar in nature, but the E-3 has a rotating radar, while the E-7 has a stationary radar plate.

“The Wedgetail and the E-3 have very similar platforms but the Wedgetail is a newer version,” mentioned Flight Lieutenant, Ryan Anderson, an E-7A pilot with the RAAF. “The more advance sensor eliminates onboard technicians for day-to-day operations, and allows for data to be collected with higher accuracy and fidelity. “

During their week-long visit, the 960th AACS and RAAF had the opportunity to conduct a joint flying mission.

“This flight was monumental because we were able to train in the electronic spectrum with international partners. Typically, this experience isn’t available unless we are being threatened in a real life event,” noted Lt. Col. Jeffrey Doyle, a member of the 965th AACS and the mission crew commander for the flight. “Gaining this knowledge in a training environment ensures we are better prepared for a real event.”

Other events included aircraft capabilities briefings for both the E-3 Sentry and E-7 Wedgetail, mission planning, static displays of each aircraft, discussions with both maintenance teams and debrief after the flight.

Australia was one stop during the AWACS world tour to display Global Reach ability. Other locations included Alaska and Hawaii.

“This visit would not have been possible without U.S. Pacific Air Forces support and assistance,” said Col. Alain Poisson, commander of the 552nd ACW. “We look forward to continuing to build continuity and experience supporting Combatant Commander objectives in multiple theaters worldwide.”

Both air forces had many key takeaways and lessons learned following the integration, ensuring our partnership is unified and prepared for future exercises, operations or any other mission that may require international support.