Members of the Air Force Test Ranges Squadron have gone underground during a patrol of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).

The compliance monitoring team visited the Prominent Hill Mine and Challenger Mine in South Australia as part of the routine inspection.

The team spent time above ground meeting managers and employees.

After familiarising the team with the sites and operations and providing some training, the employees took them underground.

Air Force Test Ranges Squadron (AFTR SQN) Squadron Leader Jodie Dell said the mine staff were outstanding hosts.

“All parties involved acted in the spirit of the co-existence model that the ranges proudly promote with all our external stakeholders within the WPA,” Squadron Leader Dell said.

“Compliance monitoring teams are responsible for the security of Air Force operations and monitoring statutory compliance within the WPA.

“This specialised team is staffed by permanent and reserve Air Force security personnel, including Indigenous regional compliance officers. 

“AFTR SQN is considered one of the most complex commands in Air Force due to its breadth of cultural, heritage and broader Defence responsibilities, stakeholder engagements and various range activities.”

On his first patrol with the regional compliance officers, RAAF Base Edinburgh Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior said it was a great opportunity to gain more understanding of the WPA and increase the cultural awareness of the compliance team.

“Being able to connect with traditional owners across the WPA will strengthen our existing relationships,” Flight Lieutenant Warrior said. 

“These patrols will increase knowledge of the lands and the importance of maintaining, protecting and respecting its heritage.”

When the Air Warfare Centre was established in 2016, the Woomera Test Range Unit was reorganised and formed into the AFTR SQN, incorporating range safety officers and operating both the WPA and Delamere Air Training Area.

The WTR provides the ADF, allies and foreign partners an area for the testing of war materiel and other activities in support of the wider national interest.