Planning is nearly complete for the Royal Australian Navy’s biggest and most exciting warfare exercise, KAKADU 2014, which will play out off the coast of Darwin from 25 August – 12 September.
Around 1,200 people, eight warships and 26 Navy and Air Force aircraft from throughout the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions will attend the premier naval exercise.
Personnel from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vanuatu will also have key roles, either working in one of the two KAKADU Task Groups or as part of the ‘observer-at-sea’ program.
KAKADU 2014 Exercise Director, Captain Heath Robertson, said it’s now crunch time as Navy locks in the wide range of warfare serials designed to improve regional maritime operations.
“When the exercise kicks off, ship’s companies and coalition participants will first get together for briefings on maritime warfare, to exchange expertise, and to conduct what we call collaborative tactical planning.
“Then, ships and aircraft will head out to sea to conduct some high-end warfare training, including gunfire, communications, seamanship, boardings and air defence serials with Royal Australian Air Force fast jets.
“The sea phases will culminate in a ‘free play’ scenario where participants will be put through their paces and given the opportunity to show each other what they’ve got.
“All of the activities are designed to familiarise defence personnel with the operating procedures, cultures and capabilities of their regional neighbours.
“Providing such a wide range of navies with the opportunity to interact with each other only leads to better cooperation, trust and interoperability - all in the interests of regional security,” Captain Robertson said.
Cultural highlights for the coalition participants will include a visit to the Darwin Military Museum and a local wildlife park, a huge inter-nation sports day, ship tours and special opening and closing ceremonies.
Showcasing the Royal Australian Navy will be HMA Ships Sydney, Stuart, Newcastle and Arunta along with S-70-B2 Seahawk, Bell 429 and MRH-90 Taipan helicopters.
The Royal Australian Air Force will be proudly represented by four 127 Hawks, four F/A 18 Super Hornets, one E-7A Wedgetail, one AP-3C Orion aircraft, one LR35 Learjet and four GAT36 Learjets.
KAKADU is a biennial exercise, now in its 23rd iteration.