The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) recently welcomed the United States Air Force (USAF) Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (23rd STS), and 17th Special Operations Squadron (17th SOS) to RAAF Base Richmond, with their AC-130J Ghostriders, for Exercise Teak Action. The annual bilateral Australia and United States special operations exercise ran from June 11 to July 1 and included missions around the local Hawkesbury region, RAAF Base Williamtown and the Singleton Military Area.
In its fifth iteration since 2018, Exercise Teak Action provided key training opportunities for the RAAF’s 4 Squadron Combat Control Team (CCT) and 35 Squadron (35SQN) to work with their AFSOC counterparts. 4 Squadron (4SQN) and the 23rd SOS engaged in dry-fire serials designed to train joint terminal attack control (JTAC) and forward air control – airborne (FAC-A) specialists in a range of scenarios and mission roles. Commanding Officer 4SQN Wing Commander Steven Duffy said Exercise Teak Action was also an opportunity for 4SQN’s PC-21 and 35SQN’s C-27J Spartan to train with the 23rd STS and 17th SOS.
“It was a chance for the RAAF and the USAF to conduct formation flying, landing zone survey and close air support training that maintains our interoperability, Training with the AC-130J Ghostrider was beneficial for RAAF personnel. We’ve learnt about the capability of the aircraft, and the support framework required for the aircraft to base in Australia and project throughout the region. 4SQN has been particularly impressed with the professionalism and operational focus of the service men and women from both 17th SOS and 23rd STS,” Wing Commander Duffy said.
This is the first time an AC-130 Hercules gunship has operated in Australia since its introduction into the USAF inventory in the 1960s. The AC-130J Ghostrider used during Exercise Teak Action is a C-130J Hercules modified for special operations roles. AC-130 gunships have an extensive combat history over the past four decades, with the USAF deploying them to hotspots worldwide in support of special operations and conventional forces. Exercise Teak Action gave American and Australian personnel the chance to build on established working relationships and ensure both nations are prepared to give short-notice response to tasks in the Indo-Pacific region.