FIVE Hawk 127 lead-in fighters have soared into Tamworth to conduct daytime training for Exercise Southern Lights.
The course is normally conducted out of Williamtown RAAF base near Newcastle, but a large-scale training exercise at the base required them to deploy to Tamworth airport.
“Most of the airspace is being utilised by the air-combat group,” Flight Lieutenant Mat Garside said yesterday.
“For us, it just made it a lot easier and a lot more sense to come to Tamworth and to use some of the airspace that’s not being utilised.”
The fast jets will be in town for two weeks enabling 23 trainee fighter pilots to continue progressing through their introductory fighter course.
While here, students will begin visual and dynamic manoeuvring otherwise known as dog fighting.
“We typically operate two aircraft and, essentially, we go out to the airspace west of Tamworth where they go head to head and start to do all their visual manoeuvres,” Mr Garside said.
“Lots of turns, lots of vertical manoeuvres, lots of close sort of manoeuvres where the aircraft are approaching each other. Eight hundred feet is the closest we’d ever get... so very, very dynamic, which is why we obviously go up in the back seat to make sure they are doing it safely.”
It’s also hoped operating out of Tamworth will motivate Defence Force pilots on course at the basic flight training school, Mr Garside said.
BAE operational support manager Heidi Fourie said it was always exciting to see different aircraft at the airport.
“I think it does a good job for our diversity to show that we can actually work with multiple types of aircraft,” she said.
“Supporting the Defence Force in both army, air force and navy with their aircraft really helps us a lot and it also gives the students exposure to the diffident types of platforms that are operated in defence.
“For a community like Tamworth I think it’s really good to show that there is always something happening here.”
Exercise Southern Lights is due to conclude and redeploy to Williamtown on September 6.