In the complex and congested battlespaces of Exercise Diamond Storm 22, aircrew rely on tactical command and control units to provide additional situational awareness. 

They essentially provide an extra set of eyes for the aircrew, working collaboratively and assisting their awareness of the battlespace they are operating in through data networks and voice communications.

Two ground-based Units, No.3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU) and No.114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (114MCRU) from No.41 Wing, deployed in support of the exercise. 

Utilising the AN/TPS-77 Tactical Air Defence Radar System and communication cabins--remotely operated by teams at RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Williamtown--the units provide deployable air surveillance and battle management capabilities in support of air operations and exercises.

Sergeant Jayne Francis, an Air Surveillance Operator, explained the role of the ground based surveillance units.

“For Exercise Diamond Storm, we have forward deployed our capabilities, this gives us the opportunity to project ourselves further into the tactical fighting airspace,” Sergeant Francis said.

“Due to the size of the airspace it’s really important for us to have our radar communications and tactical data links forward deployed so that we have the reach and coverage to be able to do our job.

“For this exercise we are operating with a high volume of aircraft, and the tactical situations are a lot more complex.”

Air Surveillance Operator Sergeant Jayne Francis monitors the exercise airspace inside an operations cabin with aviators from No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Diamond Storm 2022. Photo: Leading Aircraftman Sam Price

114MCRU deployed a radar and communications cabin to Tipperary Station, some 200kn south of the unit's home at RAAF Base Darwin; and 3CRU, normally based at RAAF Base Williamtown deployed to a remote location near the township of Timber Creek, Northern Territory, to support the exercise.

19 3CRU members and three support personnel travelled from Williamtown to the heart of the Territory, establishing a forward deployed radar and communications cabin high on a small hill in extremely rough country, immediately adjacent to Bradshaw Field Training Area..  

For Aircraftman Samuel Forsberg of 3CRU, Exercise Diamond Storm 22 was his first opportunity to deploy.

“Our team at Timber Creek couldn’t be more supportive to me on my first time deployed - the mateship is great,” Aircraftman Forsberg said.