A joint training exercise involving the Australian, British and the United States air forces has finished with a roaring aerial display over south-east Queensland.
Exercise Global Dexterity, which involved one of the largest military aircraft in use, the C-17A Globemaster III, was established in 2019 to strengthen Australia’s relationship with its closest strategic partners.
The training takes place twice a year for two weeks and involves hundreds of personnel from the three countries.
It’s the first time British forces have taken part in the exercise.
The commanding officer of 36 RAAF Squadron, Wing Commander Scott Hyland, said the training was a chance to share skill sets between aircrew and technicians.
“It’s one thing to train in isolation, but it’s incredibly important that we’re able to put our lessons into practice with partners,” he said.
“We get a lot of benefit learning and training from each other, as well as learning how to plan and execute missions.”
The Globemaster is considered the logistics backbone of the Australian Defence Force, deploying troops, supplies and heavy cargo across the world.
It’s been used to provide relief during natural disasters for non-combatant evacuations and for peacekeeping operations.
The aircraft also evacuated hundreds of people from Kabul after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
“It’s the first in and first out to regional areas when there’s a humanitarian or disaster relief recovery effort underway,” Wing Commander Hyland said.
The ABC joined the exercise’s final training flight of the year on Friday, involving three low-flying C-17s travelling from Amberley RAAF base to Noosa and across the Gold Coast.
Colonel Michael Lewis from the US Air Force said the exercise successfully integrated crews from all three countries.
“Whether it’s operations in a contentious environment or humanitarian assistance, [it’s crucial] to have those connections now so that we can rely on them in the future,” he said.
The exercise also conducted low-level flying missions in Papua New Guinea and across north Queensland.
Wing Commander Will Essex from the Royal Air Force said Australia’s terrain was nothing like the UK.
“It’s all very flat terrain [in the UK], so it’s been fantastic to practice in the mountains,” he said.
He said the hot weather had proved a particular challenge.
“We left the UK a week and a half ago and it was minus two degrees, then we came here and landed in 33 degrees,” he said.