The New Zealand Defence Force (NZD) is taking part fully for the first time in Talisman Sabre, the largest warfighting exercise that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) conducts with the United States military.
New Zealand’s part in the exercise will help its forces work better with security partners Australia and the United States, senior military officials from the three countries have said.
The NZD has deployed around 620 personnel, two ships, four aircraft including two NH90 helicopters, 22 Light Armoured Vehicles and 23 other military vehicles to Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area in Central Queensland and Fog Bay in Australia’s Northern Territory.
During the exercise, the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) NH90 helicopters are embedded within the ADF’s 16 Aviation Brigade and are operating with a dozen Australian helicopters. A Seasprite helicopter is also embarked on HMNZS TE KAHA and a C-130 Hercules aircraft is operating as part of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 37 Squadron.
Around 200 combat soldiers from the New Zealand Scots Squadron, Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles are operating as part of the ADF's 7 Brigade.
"This exercise has given us the opportunity to demonstrate our battlefield support capability and to confirm our operating procedures in challenging and remote locations," said Wing Commander Scott McKenzie, Commanding Officer of the RNZAF’s 3 Squadron.
Navy frigate HMNZS TE KAHA is engaged in maritime warfare off Darwin in Northern Australia as part of the Opposing Force, while the tanker HMNZS Endeavour is tasked to help refuel the 21 ships that are taking part in the exercise.
"The fact that New Zealand is here is a great opportunity to increase that interoperability," said US Marine Lieutenant General John Wissler, III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General.