Bradshaw Field Training Area, NT, Australia – The sun rises over the hot, rugged outback hundreds of miles south of Darwin. Any other day the sight would be just calm and quiet, but today a simulated enemy target will come to an end on the fictional “Bradshaw Island” in a unique demonstration of expeditionary precision attack operations by the United States Marines Corps and Australian Defense Force together.

In the simulation, known as “Exercise Loobye”, a highly mobile artillery missile system performs a rapid infiltration demonstration, or “HIRAIN”. This fast and complex operation enables friendly armed forces to land on the ground with long range and precision strike capability and to destroy a threat appropriately so that follow-up forces can carry out landing operations.

This is the first time in its ten year history that a HIRAIN mission has been conducted by Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and a first HIRAIN mission for both MRF-D and ADF in the Bradshaw Field Training Area.

During its 2021 deployment, MRF-D went through a training scenario in which it battled simulated enemy forces across the Northern Territory.

Starting with Exercise Crocodile Response, a fictional natural disaster struck a simulated friendly nation and initiated a disaster response from MRF-D, ADF and other government agencies. Following this, the June Darrandarra exercise demonstrated embassy reinforcement and non-combatant evacuation operations in the same country, while tensions between friendly and hostile elements in the scenario continued to rise.

Later in the month, MRF-D participated in the conduct of the trilateral exercise Southern Jackaroo, in which Australian, Japanese and US military personnel eliminated an enemy threat with combined fire, maneuvers and command and control functions.

Now the enemy has set up defensive positions on Bradshaw Island. By capturing key areas and establishing anti-entry / air denial systems on the island, the enemy has effectively prevented Allied forces from safely mobilizing, landing and operating in the area.

“It is important to train in a simulated, competitive coastal environment that mirrors a campaign for expeditions in advance because it is in line with the planning guidelines of our Marine Corps leadership,” noted Captain Owen Tucker, MRF-D intelligence officer.

“It enables us to be more capable and dynamic in our pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific by practicing reacting to scenarios we are actually in.”

After extensive reconnaissance, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts to determine the position and capabilities of the enemy, an RQ-21 Blackjack from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU 3) discovers an anti-ship missile position in the heart of “Bradshaw Island” and simulcasts that are fed to an Australian partner network and displayed in a joint operations center by MRF-D and ADF. This threat poses a significant risk to an attack force embarked at sea – a threat that MRF-D must neutralize before it can hope for an amphibious assault.

After MRF-D locates the target, a small team puts in their Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company division to get a personal picture and confirm what was on the sUAS video feed.

“Due to the priority of this goal, we have to ensure redundant observation methods,” explains 1st Lt. Holly Sandler, the ANGLICO department responsible for MRF-D.

“A video feed of the RQ-21 Blackjack, reinforced by real eyes, ensures that the operations center of the combined task force can observe the effects in any case at the time of the strike and we can confirm their destruction.”

The question remains how the anti-ship missile can be neutralized. Using several offensive methods, MRF-D chooses one of its expedition and intensive options: HIRAIN.

The High Mobility Rocket Artillery System is well suited for destroying surface targets from the deck of a ship. However, an anti-ship missile poses a significant risk to an amphibious force if it is within the weapon’s threat range.

But to land a plane and do a HIRAIN mission, it requires an airfield. Enter the Royal Australian Air Force.

At Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, a RAAF C-17 Globemaster stands ready to load a US Navy HIMARS into the back of its hold. After the take-off call, the HIMARS flies to an airfield that is to be secured by the MRF-D Ground Combat and Aviation Combat Elements.

“Loading and carrying equipment from other services or other military personnel is a well-trained thing that we do. We always look at how we can make it safe as number one, but beyond that we want to offer the customer what he needs, ”says Flight Lt. Thomas Breaden, the RAAF C-17 pilot from 36 Squadron.

While the C-17 is loading, a company of Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th, is loading. A portion of the AH-1Z Vipers are also turning, ready to escort and protect the attack force.

The mission commander, Col. David Banning, commanding officer of MRF-D, gives the order to start. The Loobye exercise has officially started.

Less than an hour after leaving RAAF Darwin base, the vipers arrive at Nackeroo airfield in the Bradshaw Field training area and begin simulating the destruction of targets by enemy opposition forces. This force – a combined team of Australian soldiers and U.S. Marines – had days to dig into defensive positions to make the MRF-D attack as realistic as possible.

In the orchestrated chaos of fictional cannon shots and rocket fire, the Ospreys land their company of infantry marines, who quickly sweep the runway and clear the enemy meter by meter.

Ultimately, the enemy will be overwhelmed and destroyed by overwhelming firepower. The infantry company provides security and notifies the mission commander, who calls the HIRAIN.

Less than an hour after taking the airfield, the RAAF C-17 lands on Nackeroo. Its ramp descends and extends a HIMARS ready to move from the aircraft to the firing position with some aiming assistance.

“We have connected the advanced navigation system of the C-17 directly to the HIMARS trucks on board. They constantly updated their position throughout the flight and oriented themselves so that they could take off and fire after our arrival, ”says Flight Lt. Breaden.

As soon as the VMU and ANGLICO departments confirm the sight of the target, the mission commander gives permission to fire. The HIMARS launches a single missile in their direction; The missile – which contains 200 pounds of explosives and is controlled by GPS – flies 40 kilometers over Bradshaw until it lands precisely on its target.

Then, as soon as it arrived, the HIMARS races back to the airfield to avoid detection by other enemies in the area who may have identified their position from the shot. There they load the C-17, the ramp rises and the C-17 prepares for take-off.

HIRIAN completely. Mission accomplished.

Exercises such as Loobye demonstrate MRF-D’s ability to conduct operations as a combined joint force with the Australian Defense Force, conduct expeditionary operations such as HIRAIN, and demonstrate their mutual commitment to responding to a crisis or emergency in the Indo-Pacific region.

Recording date: 08/16/2021
Release Date: 08/16/2021 7:42 AM
Story ID: 403131
Location: BRADSHAW FELD TRAINING AREA, NT, AU
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