The Marines complete a Darwin deployment that includes Australia’s first Blackjack drone flight
The roughly 1,000 US Marines participating in the annual rotation to Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory have all completed missions and returned to their home stations.
The aim of the Marine-Darwin Rotation Force – which began in 2012, a year after US and Australian leaders agreed to conduct joint training annually – is to increase the ability of US and Australian Defense Force forces to operate together and provide deployed troops. able to respond to crises in the region.
It is the first time a Marine Corps RQ-21A Blackjack reconnaissance drone has been flown in Australia, US Marine Colonel David Banning, commander of the rotational forces, said in a news release Thursday.
Made by a Boeing subsidiary, the Blackjack is a small tactical aircraft that carries a maximum payload of 39 pounds and can last over 16 hours, depending on how it is configured. It has a line of sight range of 64 miles, according to the manufacturer’s website.
Among other uses, the Marines use Blackjack to keep an eye on long-range targets.
“This year’s rotation is testament to the strong alliance between Australia and the United States,” said Banning. “We can complete the rotation effectively even while operating under the threat of COVID-19.”
Countermeasures against COVID-19, which is a disease caused by the coronavirus, mean that the Marines present this year are considerably smaller than the 2,500 who arrived in 2019. The size and scope of activities are limited, with US rotation to Australia delayed by two. month because of the pandemic.
All incoming Marines are required to complete a 14-day quarantine and be tested before and after that confinement. American troop movements are limited to Australian defense facilities in the Northern Territory for all deployments.
Several major activities that had been planned for this year were changed or postponed due to pandemic considerations.
The Marines begin their first training in smaller groups after they leave quarantine.
“We worked from platoon-level assaults to battalion-sized events,” Banning said in a news release. “We see integration [Australian Defense Force] artillery and aviation assets and aviation from our sister service. “
Australia’s entire integrated Air-Ground-Sea Task Force and Defense Forces successfully demonstrated readiness to respond to the crisis during the culminating Koolendong Exercise, the statement said.
Such emergencies could involve anything from humanitarian aid to “high-class warfare,” said the news release.