Tracking a 2m drone across the horizon travelling around 220kmph, Gunner Bradley King fired a BOLIDE missile towards the target, several kilometres away. 

With the proximity warhead enabled, the missile exploded within metres of the small target, but failed to destroy the drone, which continued its flight for the next firer.  

After a nearby Patriot missile demonstration by the US Army’s 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, it was the 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery’s (16 Regt, RAA) turn to showcase its anti-air capability at Exercise Talisman Sabre – the RBS 70 short-range anti-aircraft missile.  

During the live-fire activity, Gunner King and four others were responsible for keeping the target within the laser corridor, which guided the missile until impact, according to 16 Regt, RAA, 110th Battery Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class (WO2) Two Dean Smith. 

“It takes a lot of skill,” WO2 Smith said.

“The guys do thousands of tracks before they get the opportunity to fire one of these themselves.” 

With live firing conducted only one or two times a year, the soldiers use two types of training simulators to hone their skills throughout the year. 

A standalone RBS 70 simulator enables tracking practise for the operator, or a more complex dome-shaped simulator provides an immersive experience for the whole detachment.

Battery Commander Major Keegan Smith said soldiers are already receiving training on the next generation of weapon to arrive at the unit, with a national advanced surface-to-air missile system (NASAMS) set to replace the line-of-sight RBS 70 in the coming years.

“It will be a significant increase in our air-defence capability,” Major Smith said. 

“It’s a beyond line-of-sight radar guided munition with a significant increase in range and breadth of threats it can engage.” 

The upgraded NASAMs can be mounted on the Hawkei 4x4 protected vehicle, or in canisters on a medium/heavy vehicle and is expected to arrive in the next two years. 

Get the latest Exercise Talisman Sabre 21 action here: 

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Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021