It was a beautiful day for aviation as flying operations for Exercise Talisman Sabre began at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland.

Group Captain Stephen Chappell, Amberley’s task unit commander, said it was always a pleasure to “fight” alongside the United States Air Force (USAF).

“Our American friends arrived this week, and we have been practising one-on-one dog fighting with F-18 Super Hornets, Growlers and F-22 Raptors to familiarise with the airspace,” Group Captain Chappell said.

“From Amberley, we are commanding a wing of RAAF and USAF air combat, electronic attack and strike platforms.

“Over the next few weeks we are training to effectively fight for and gain control of the air and electromagnetic spectrum, with the goal of simulating strike weapons on both land and maritime enemy assets as part of the exercise scenario.”

Group Captain Stephen Chappell, of No. 82 Wing, and United States Air Force Colonel Brian Baldwin, of 13th Air Expeditionary Force with a USAF F-22 Raptor. Photo: Corporal Jesse Kane

Talisman Sabre is Australia’s major biennial exercise with the US and more than 34,000 personnel were involved this year. There were also participants from the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.

Group Captain Chappell said it was a continuation of a long journey for RAAF fighter squadrons and the USAF to pursue excellence in air combat integration.

“Exercise Talisman Sabre is an extension of our ‘Enhanced Air Cooperation program’,” Group Captain Chappell said.

“To use a sporting analogy: we are two football teams. Not only can RAAF and USAF play the same game, using the same tactics, against the same opponent – we can both win and do well, and also swap in and out. Australians and Americans are training to be in the forward pack, so we can win every day.”

A United States Air Force F-22 Raptor arrives at RAAF Base Amberley. Photo: Corporal Jesse Kane

Colonel Brian ‘Barley’ Baldwin, Amberley’s USAF group commander, 13th Expeditionary Air Force, said his team was thrilled to be Down Under.

“This is the first time the F-22 Raptor has been based out of Amberley for an exercise,” Colonel Baldwin said.

“We have a long history; the 90th Fighter Squadron arrived in Australia in 1942 during WWII and since then we have upheld a tradition of keeping an Aussie exchange pilot with us.

“Another great opportunity to work with our best mates.”