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U.S., Australian air forces advance combined capabilities at Darwin

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jackie Sanders
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

Two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers and approximately 50 Airmen, assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, concluded a combined exercise with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at RAAF Base Darwin, Australia, Dec. 9, 2018, in support of exercise Lightning Focus.

Exercise Lightning Focus is an Australian training exercise designed around improving, developing and integrating partner capabilities as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) under the Force Posture Initiative between the United States and Australia.


While at RAAF Base Darwin, the B-52s participated alongside RAAF F-18 Super Hornets in a wide range of exercise and training activities, conducting multiple combined sorties and providing input into expanding and developing tactics and procedures.


 “I was here a few years ago for this exercise, and it’s great seeing some of the differences and developments between that exercise and this one,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristin Nelson, 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron instructor pilot. “Over the last couple of weeks, some of the things we’ve been able to learn and develop at different levels of strategic and tactical support operations have allowed us to come together as one larger force with our allies and has given huge lessons learned for all parties.”


Through the EAC initiative and the continued enhancement of the RAAF facilities, Pacific Air Forces and the RAAF continue to build upon their already strong alliance and combined capabilities, advancing interoperability between the nations.


“The liaison between Australia and the U.S. is vital, and over time our good relationship and understanding for one another has only improved through exercises like this,” said RAAF Squadron Leader Craig Sedgman, executive officer.


The bombers previously participated in an EAC event focused on close air support exercises with Australian Army and RAAF units in April 2018.