Set against the coastal backdrop of the historic Old Bar airfield, north of Newcastle, this year’s Exercise Diamond Shield held from February to April, gave Air Force’s No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU) appropriately challenging weather in which to test equipment designed to stand up in all environments.

3CRU demonstrated that they can maintain equipment in some of the most inclement weather seen, and still achieve mission objectives.

3CRU operated a tactical air defence radar system (TADRS) and a secure communications cabin to provide a tactical air and space surveillance picture and enable communication back to the Eastern Regional Operation Centre (EROC) located at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Air Battle Manager 3CRU Detachment Commander, Flying Officer Kristiane Grafton deployed as the detachment commander with Sergeant Christopher Andreou a Network Technician as the 2nd In-Charge, and were responsible for ensuring that both personnel and the equipment operated effectively to provide the air battle management effect.

“The deployed team at Old Bar provided surveillance data to operators at the Williamtown Control Reporting Centre (CRC) to enable the management of aircraft, both friendly and opposing, whilst also providing tactical direction to assist in the coordination of mission objectives,” Flying Officer Grafton said.

“By overlaying data from multiple inputs the CRC can have increased confidence in the accuracy of the air battlespace picture they’re observing during the exercise and for future missions.”

The 3CRU deployed reporting post is designed to operate in all conditions. It’s comprised of a tactical air defence radar system (TADRS) and communications cabin. The TADRS is a deployable tactical air defence radar system based on the Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-117 Long Range Radar. It is able to conduct air surveillance, track non-cooperative targets, and perform command and control functions in support of both military operations domestically and abroad.

“It’s been an important learning opportunity to gain an understanding of how to operate in adverse conditions; 3CRU has to remain ready to provide its capability in a variety of environments and in potentially hostile combat situations,” Flying Officer Grafton said.

“Working with the variety of Air Force units and aircraft from across Australia on Diamond Shield has been a highlight of the exercise. I’ve also enjoyed meeting members of the community here at Old Bar, without their support we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission objectives.”

Following the end of the exercise, the team at Old Bar returned to RAAF Base Williamtown to continue routine training and operations.

Images of Exercise Diamond Shield are available on the Defence image library: