The Australian Army 1st Aviation Regiment has spread it wings over the Arizona desert, having deployed a squadron of ARH Tiger Attack Helicopter to California, USA, in August and September to work alongside their US Marine Corps (USMC) counterparts. Exercise Griffin Eagle also provided the Australians with an opportunity to further develop their attack and reconnaissance aviation capability through training and interoperability activities. The Australian Army Aviation ARH Tiger performed well in the desert conditions. The hot and dusty conditions were similar to the ones we experience in Darwin.
The Officer Commanding Task Unit Marlin Major Jason Perrins said,“A range of previous pilot exchange programs meant there was an established relationship with the USMC that could be built upon by the visiting squadron. A few years ago, I flew Cobra helicopters on the US West Coast as part of the exchange program. In recent years, close relationships have also been formed with the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during combined exercises in Australia. Being able to complete a number of training qualification activities with the USMC was a key outcome of the deployment.”
Exercise Griffin Eagle was an excellent opportunity to deploy and sustain a complex aviation capability in an austere environment. Distance, a limited supply chain and available space to take equipment were key considerations in the planning to support the aircraft and personnel. Working closely with joint agencies and our industry partners, the 1st Aviation Regiment maintained consistent online aircraft including live-fire activities. The lessons learnt from this exercise will enhance Australian Army Aviation ability to provide safe, effective and sustainable aviation to the joint force.
The 1st Aviation Regiment is one of the Australian Army’s three Army Aviation regiments and provides aerial reconnaissance and fire support to the Australian Army. The 1st Aviation Regiment forms part of the 16th Aviation Brigade and is based at Gaza Lines, Robertson Barracks, Darwin. The Eurocopter Tiger is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter which first entered service in 2003. It is manufactured by Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter). The Tiger has the distinction of being the first all-composite helicopter developed in Europe. The Tiger ARH is the version ordered by the Australian Army to replace its OH-58 Kiowas and UH-1 Iroquois-based ‘Bushranger’ gunships.