The scream of F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets and Army Tiger attack helicopters filled the Townsville Field Training Area as they circled and eliminated simulated enemies during Exercise Nigrum Pugio.

A combined effort of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), the 1st Aviation Regiment and RAAF’s No. 75 Squadron, the exercise earlier this month was a success in retaining qualifications for troops who call in air strikes from the ground on operations.

Captain Chris Pitman said the small JTAC community relished any opportunity to practise their skills.

“The feeling of calling in an airstrike is rewarding and satisfying knowing that you’ve gone through a rigorous course to become qualified, so to actually come out here today and employ the skillset that we’re afforded is a really rewarding feeling.”

“The Joint Terminal Attack Controller training is important because it’s a niche capability and without exercises like this the training wouldn’t be offered to the troops out in the wider brigade environment,” Captain Pitman said.

Being a mentally challenging job with catastrophic consequences if mistakes are made, Captain Pitman said processes were stringent and followed closely.

“You’ll receive an aircraft checking in on the radio, they’ll outline their capabilities and weapons they’re carrying for the day, and you then go through the processes you learn on the JTAC course to match the appropriate weapon to your target,” he said.

“The feeling of calling in an airstrike is rewarding and satisfying knowing that you’ve gone through a rigorous course to become qualified, so to actually come out here today and employ the skillset that we’re afforded is a really rewarding feeling.”

Captain Pitman said the culture within the JTAC community wasn’t a typical Army unit atmosphere, with the small team environment allowing for more personable relationships, which made it a unique and enjoyable place to work.

Qualified JTAC troops are posted to all combat brigades in Australia, which ensures soldiers on the ground during operations have close air support capabilities on the battlefield.