Rogue Ambush Exercise in Australia’s Top End


According to an Australian Department of Defence story published on June 15, 2021, the Rogue Ambush exercise began in the Northern Territories.

The Royal Australian Air Force will deploy over 300 personnel and approximately 30 aircraft to RAAF bases Darwin and Tindal to conduct Exercise Rogue Ambush 21-1 from 15 June to 2 July 2021.

Exercise Commander, Group Captain Matthew McCormack, said Rogue Ambush 21-1 was the final phase of the first F-35A operational conversion course to be run in Australia since the introduction of the Lightning II aircraft.

“F-35A fighter pilots from No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit and E-7A Wedgetail co-pilots and aircrew from No. 2 Squadron who have deployed from RAAF Base Williamtown will face challenging training during the final phase of their six-month operational conversion courses,” Group Captain McCormack said.

“The biannual Rogue Ambush exercises are designed to produce personnel ready to deliver air power for the joint force in peace and war.

“Personnel will participate in high-complexity air combat training and interoperability activities with other Force Element Groups that enable us to test and practice deployment capabilities.

“The exercise provides our new pilots and aircrew an offensive counter-air training environment to fly complex aircraft and achieve an extremely high performance of precision strike missions, airborne command and control and air to air refuelling.”

Aircraft will operate during routine flying hours on weekdays only and will conduct a wide range of tactical flying activities across Northern Territory, utilising the Tindal restricted airspace and Delamere Air Weapons Range.

Aircraft deployed to the exercise include the F-35A Lightning II, F/A-18A/B Hornet, E-7A Wedgetail, Hawk 127 lead-in fighter and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.

Aircraft noise is a vital consideration in the planning and conduct of Air Force exercises.

Air Force extends its sincere thanks and appreciation to the people of Darwin, Katherine and the wider Northern Territory community for their goodwill and continued support.

And in a June 7, 2021 article published by Isabella Richards in Australian Aviation:

“Two RAAF F-35s have taken to the skies with a full complement of weapons for the first time. The landmark moment came as the pair were taking part in Exercise Arnhem Thunder 21 last month from RAAF Base Darwin…. In addition to their internal payload, the F-35s departed with laser-guided GBU-12 bombs attached to their under-wing pylons. During the course of the exercise, 10 F-35As normally based at RAAF Base Williamtown will drop more than 50 inert GBU-12s.”

And in an earlier Australian Aviation article by Adam Thorn, the exercise was underscored as focusing on “force generation training,” with a particular focus on high-end collective training which involved multiple Force Element Groups. This was the firs time the Aussie F-35s operated out of RAAF Base Darwin.

The following aircraft were identified in that article as participating in the exercise:

  • F-35A Lightning II;
  • F/A-18F Super Hornet;
  • EA-18G Growler;
  • F/A-18A/B Hornet;
  • Hawk 127;
  • C-130J Hercules;
  • C-17A Globemaster;
  • C-27J Spartan;
  • KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport; and
  • E-7A Wedgetail.

The featured photo: A pilot is marshalled in after completing his first flight in an F-35A Lightning II during the Operational Conversion course at RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo: Sergeant Guy Young