Author Topic: Joint air force exercise dodges diplomatic flak  (Read 238 times)

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Joint air force exercise dodges diplomatic flak
« on: November 19, 2013, 05:33:04 AM »
The diplomatic row over phone-tapping and alleged spying is not expected to affect a joint exercise involving RAAF and Indonesian fighter aircraft in the Northern Territory.

RAAF 75 Squadron Wing Commander Peter Mitchell says sharing knowledge with Indonesia's armed forces will be a feature of the week-long operation that starts in Darwin today.

He says the exercise involves eight Australian FA-18 and six Indonesian F-16 fighter jets flying over the Top End.

More than 200 defence force personnel from both countries are taking part in Exercise Elang AusIndo.

Wing Commander Mitchell says the tactical relationship with Indonesian armed forces is important.

"Indonesia is an extremely important partner to Australia," he said.

"This [exercise] is focused on the tactical level.

"It allows the Australian pilots and the Indonesian pilots to share their knowledge of airborne interception."

Wing Commander Mitchell stressed the friendly relationship between Australian and Indonesian pilots.

"We do not get into the policy and the diplomatic issues," he said.

"The relationship that we have is extremely cordial and friendly.

"We really enjoy working together."

The fighter jets will operate out of Darwin RAAF base and operational flying will be restricted to daylight hours.

An Australian Defence Force spokesman acknowledges the situation could change but says any decision would be made by the Australian or Indonesian governments.

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