Australian RAAF Dispatches Super Hornets and Spartan to Malaysia

Photo: CPL Sam Price

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has stationed six F/A-18F Super Hornets and one C-27J Spartan aircraft in north-west Malaysia as part of Exercise Bersama Lima. This deployment at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth brings together forces from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

F/A-18F Super Hornets are dual-seat, multi-purpose fighter jets capable of air combat, supporting ground forces, and targeting enemy supply chains, including naval vessels. Their arsenal includes AIM-120 AMRAAMs, AIM-9X Sidewinders, joint direct attack munitions, traditional and laser-guided explosives, AGM-154 standoff weapons, AGM-84 harpoon missiles, and a forward-mounted M61A2 20mm gun.

This fortnight-long drill includes over 400 personnel from the Australian Defence Force, the Hobart Class missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane, infantry from the Australian Army, and the RAAF’s aerial assets.

Flight Lieutenant Russel, a pilot of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, highlighted the comprehensive coordination among the participating countries. The collaboration ranged from mission planning with Malaysian controllers to flying in mixed groups with multiple rapid-firing jets. He elaborated, “We’ve coordinated defence activities in the skies from the Malaysian Peninsula to Singapore and worked intensively with the naval strengths of the five nations to simulate threat detection on maritime assets or land targets in Malaysia.”

Once potential threats are identified, the combined forces proceed to intercept and engage them. He added, “Such exercises offer a valuable training opportunity with our allies.”

He further praised the dedication of the technical crew, stating they ensure the aircraft are consistently mission-ready. The experience at RMAF Butterworth, with its robust RAAF association and the assistance of the 19 Squadron, has been invaluable. Russel emphasized the importance of acclimating to different operational environments, noting the benefit of learning local best practices for mission success in unfamiliar territories.

Moreover, the Super Hornet boasts advanced equipment, including mission computers, heads-up displays, advanced radar, infrared detection, and targeting tools, as well as electronic warfare and infrared defence mechanisms.


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