QUEENSLAND, Australia, –
U.S. and Royal Australian Air Force Airmen flew a combined formation of C-17 aircraft more than 16 hours straight across the Pacific Ocean this past week as part of 18th Air Force's participation in Exercise Talisman Saber 15.
Exercise Talisman Sabre is a U.S. Pacific Command - sponsored exercise that trains USPACOM forces in a high-end, mid-intensity warfighting scenario involving a Combined Task Force.
"We took off as a five-ship formation, performed air refueling en-route to Australia where we airdropped around 450 paratroopers so they could participate in Talisman Sabre," said Capt. Michael Povilaitis, 15th Airlift Squadron pilot from Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
The 18th Air Force contribution to the exercise included C-17s and aircrews from the 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; the 446th Airlift Wing and 62nd Airlift Wing, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, supported by KC-10 Extenders and crews from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
As part of the exercise, mobility Airmen airdropped more than 450 Army paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Brigade, and cargo into Kapyong drop zone, Australia.
"It was a great opportunity," said Povilaitis. "Not everything went perfect and never does, but we learned a lot and we got there on time and on target."
Royal Australian Air Force Capt. Robert Krupinski, 15th Airlift Squadron exchange pilot, said that although there are differences in how the U.S. and Australian Air Forces operate, the formation's aircrews worked very well together.
"We all came together with the same job," he said. "We had a few minor differences because of our operating procedures and levels of training, but it all came together very well in the end. We were able to affect the mission in a very successful manner."
More than 33,000 forces from the U.S. and Australia participated in Talisman Saber. The Australia-U.S. alliance remains a critical defense relationship and a central pillar of each nation's security strategy. This is the sixth iteration of Talisman Sabre since 2005. Eighteenth Air Force provides air mobility forces to combatant commanders and carries out Air Mobility Command's operational role as Air Forces Transportation, the air component of U.S. Transportation Command.