Working Mobile Basing for Australian Defense: The Case of the the 3CRU Detachment


By Betina Mears

Joining units across the country to build the air surveillance picture, Air Force personnel from No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU) deployed from RAAF Base Williamtown to the Corindi regional area in support of Exercise Lightning Storm.

A small of contingent of specialist technical and logistics personnel made the journey to northern NSW in convoy from their home base at RAAF Base Williamtown transporting a surveillance radar, communications cabin and satellite terminals to engage in real-time training scenarios. The team also included network specialists and cooks.

Exercise Lightning Storm comprises both overland and overwater defensive and offensive counter-air training activities across large portions of the east coast of Australia.

Established on the soccer fields in the outskirts of Corindi, 3CRU deployed TPS-77 radar capability to provide an essential surveillance picture which was transmitted by satellite to the unit’s control and reporting centre (CRC) at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Back home, skilled 3CRU personnel operated the CRC that provided tactical command and control of air operations.

3CRU Detachment Commander Flying Officer Andrew Winter said 3CRU’s support to the exercise ensured the data feed was maintained to support missions.

“Our team’s important contribution at the Corindi deployment site has provided operators within the CRC at Williamtown with vital data and surveillance information to manage aircraft postures, detect and track opposing aircraft and provide tactical direction to aircraft – essentially to assist in the coordination of the mission,” Flying Officer Winter said.

In addition to 3CRU’s assets, Exercise Lightning Storm included RAAF No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit’s deployable Mobile Control and Reporting Centre (MCRC) operating out of Oakey in Queensland, the E-7A Wedgetail, KC-30A multi-role tanker transports, F-35A Lightning and other fighter aircraft from Williamtown and Amberley air bases.

For 3CRU, the exercise delivered a number of important training outcomes.

3CRU Maintenance Manager for the deployment Sergeant Chris Andreou said junior members received important skilling accreditation which was vital for their role.

“Certification of newly posted maintenance personnel to the unit as a result of the exercise has ensured that personnel are operationally ready,” Sergeant Andreou said.

Additional unit training outcomes included category upgrades for air battle managers and air surveillance operators, integration with other command and control systems, validation of tactics, techniques and procedures to optimise operational integration with other weapon systems and more.

Reflecting on 3CRU’s training opportunities at the deployment site, Flying Officer Winter said he was incredibly proud of his team’s achievements, noting the unit had deployed to the Corindi area multiple times before.

“The team’s commitment and dedication to the task has no doubt ensured that capability has been maintained throughout the exercise,” he said.

“Successful deployment and training of this type would not be possible, however, without the community’s ongoing support, of which we are grateful.”

3CRU is part of Surveillance and Response Group’s No. 41 Wing, which delivers precision air defence and air battlespace management for the joint force.

This article was published by the Australian Department of Defence on September 9, 2020, and was entitled. “Eyes for the Sky opens from the Ground.”

The featured photo: Leading Aircraftman Nick Brown monitors the satellite link back to RAAF Williamtown from the Corindi showgrounds. Photo: Corporal Craig Barrett