Exercise KAKADU Task Group defend air attack

Published on LEUT Nicholas Robinson (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Topic(s): Exercises

Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Kane Mackey in the Operations Room during an air warfare exercise onboard HMAS Stuart as part of Exercise KAKADU 2014.  (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Kane Mackey in the Operations Room during an air warfare exercise onboard HMAS Stuart as part of Exercise KAKADU 2014.

On Tuesday 2 September 2014, eight ships of the coalition Task Force defended themselves against 11 opposition aircraft as a part of an air defence exercise for KAKADU. The ships faced threats from a range of aircraft and had to respond to a simulated use of long range and short range missile deployments.

For the purpose of the exercise, the opposition aircraft were four Hawks, four GATs, two FA-18 and one LR 35 from the Royal Australian Air Force.

Leading Seaman Claire Venn, Electronic Warfare Director, provided a brief to the Operations Room on the expected capabilities of the threats to the ship and then played a crucial role providing early warning, with the detection of surface and air contacts.

“The serial was a success. We defeated multi-axis threats with little to no damage to the ship.

“I feel that the result today is due to the preparation and training we put into responding to these potential real world scenarios,” Leading Seaman Venn said.

Lieutenant Kane Mackey, Principal Warfare Officer, lead the fight for the ship in the Operations Room in partnership with the Officer of the Watch on the bridge.

“The relationship between the bridge and operations is crucial in ensuring the ship is in the right place and the right time, so it can defend itself and its consorts," Lieutenant Mackey said.

"Multiple missile threats to the ship meant that missile defence solutions were often required simultaneously.

“The Ops Room is a busy place during such a high intensity serial. Everyone had to multitask.

“It’s like having to listen to three conversations at once and then prioritise each one,” Lieutenant Mackey said.

 The exercise was overseen by the Navy Sea Training Group and reinforced the importance of training to win in the maritime environment.

KAKADU is the Royal Australian Navy's larges maritime warfare exercise for the year, occurring in and off the coast of Darwin from 25 August to 12 September 2014.