CORAL SEA - The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Strike Group, Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) collaborate in an air defense exercise (ADEX) in support of exercise Talisman Saber 2013 (TS 13).
ADEXs provide combined training and validation for maritime and air operations and flex combined staffs in crisis action planning for contingency operations and humanitarian missions.
"We're integrating the Australian forces into our air defense system to build a combined force for our nation and our allies," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rene "Sleepy" Cornejo, air warfare commander of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) and air missile test commander for Commander, Task Force 70 (CTF 70). "We use the air defense to protect the carrier strike group to include the air wing, which also provides defense for our surface assets."
TS 13 is a biennial training exercise aimed at improving ADF and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force.
"The exercise allows U.S. and Australia air defense assets to execute a pre-planned response to a hostile threat," said Lt. Bill Webb, George Washington's tactical actions officer. "One scenario we conduct is to have our aircraft act as enemy combatants. We then intercept them using our other aircraft, ships, and Australian forces. Integrating our forces definitely makes us stronger."
The alliance between the two nations provides ADF with access to technology and defenses that increases the capacity and strength of its forces.
"We integrated HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) this year into the strike group and for today's exercise, we had the Royal Australian Air Force solely providing assets," said Cornejo. "Prior to integrating Sydney, we conducted classroom training. Once we got underway, we activated Sydney as the alternate air missile defense commander. Now we're finally conducting TS 13 and testing each other's air and weapons capability."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.