RAAF takes part in Exercise Mobility Guardian 17

A RAAF KC-30 frames a USAF KC-135 departing Joint Base Lewis-McChord during Mobility Guardian 17. (Defence)

A RAAF C-17 Globemaster and KC-30A MRTT and a RNZAF C-130H Hercules are three of more than 40 aircraft currently participating in Exercise Mobility Guardian 17, the largest scale exercise yet undertaken by the US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command.

Aircraft from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK including C-17s, C-130 Hercules, an RAF A400M Altas and KC-135, KC-10 and KC-30 refueling aircraft are taking part in Mobility Guardian 17, which began on July 31 and continues through until August 11.

Operating from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington State, the exercise involves scenario-based training covering airlift, airdrop, air-to-air refuelling, aero-medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

“We’re creating an exercise that will encompass everything AMC does,” said Lt Col Jeremy Wagner, the Mobility Guardian director.

“We basically took every skillset from AMC and said, ‘What would the ideal exercise for each of our different mission sets look like?’ Then we combined them all into one.”


Smoke haze over Joint Base Lewis-McChord during Mobility Guardian 17. (USAF)

The exercises involves more than 3,000 personnel and will be support by USAF fighter and bomber aircraft including F-35s, F-16s, A-10s, F-15Es, F-15Cs, B-52s and the B-2.

“We’re trying to challenge mobility Airmen to improve skillsets that they either may have not worked on recently or have not experienced at all,” said 1st Lt. Michael McCarthy, a Mobility Guardian planner.

“Any Combat Air Forces involvement is to simulate what we would see in a real-world situation, but really push these members to the limits within the safe parameters of what they’re capable of.”

Mobility Guardian 17 is the RAF A400M’s first participation in a major international airlift exercise. (USAF)