The Indonesian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force have given thousands of people from the local Manado community a close-up view of their aircraft and equipment as part of Exercise Elang Ausindo 19.

The Indonesian Air Force - Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara (TNI AU) – and Australian personnel engaged the community during an open day at Sam Ratulangi International Airport, Manado, during the first week of the exercise in mid-September.

Thousands attended and had their photo taken in front of an F/A-18F Super Hornet from No. 1 Squadron and a TNI AU F-16 from No.16 Squadron.

Flight Lieutenant Sam, a weapon systems officer from No. 1 Squadron, said the open day was the perfect opportunity to showcase how easily the two air forces can operate together.

“Australia is lucky to have neighbours that provide us these training opportunities. The open day is just a small way of thanking the community for their support in making this exercise a success.

“People are keen to understand what we are doing here and have told us they are thrilled to see the neighbouring countries working as partners,” Flight Lieutenant Sam said. 

“The open day has been a heart-warming experience for the team; people have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome here in Manado.”

He said that the opportunity to fly over the diverse landscapes of North Sulawesi was a highlight of the trip.

“We’re seeing everything from rainforests and volcanos to the crystal clear oceans and reefs around the islands,” he said.

“Australia is lucky to have neighbours that provide us these training opportunities. The open day is just a small way of thanking the community for their support in making this exercise a success.

“This is the first time 1 Squadron have brought the Super Hornets to North Sulawesi and I am really hoping to get this opportunity again in the future.”

Exercise Elang Ausindo was one of a number of activities between Australia and Indonesia that showed their commitment to developing co-operative air combat procedures.