Landing forces put their training to the test in a multi-national reconnaissance mission during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022.
In a simulated scenario, Australian Army soldiers and United States Marines lifted off from HMAS Canberra in US Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters.
Before their mission even began, they were challenged with the insertion method called helicopter casting (helo-casting) – jumping from a low-flying helicopter into the ocean.
Lieutenant Joel Scarramella from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, said it was exciting to helo-cast for the first time.
“It was a fresh way of looking at how we can apply ourselves. Yes, it was fun, but most importantly it exposed everyone to different methods of inserting into an environment,” Lieutenant Scarramella said.
Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Tutton said it was an important opportunity for the Australian Army.
“Inserting onto a beach from a United States aircraft is something that we must practise. Developing our interoperability makes us stronger and more adaptive as a force,” Lieutenant Colonel Tutton said.
What made this helo-casting exercise more unique was the Zodiac F470 bundle that was dispatched from the helicopter and had to be inflated in the ocean.
Responsible for carefully packaging the Zodiacs was Australian Army Air Dispatcher Corporal Jesse Ablett’s team.
“How it worked was we put all the equipment inside the deflated boat and into a bundle,” Corporal Ablett said.
“Once it was dispatched from the rotary wing aircraft, it used a gas bottle to inflate so the boat crew could set it up once they were in the water.”
Having jumped into the deep end, soldiers boarded their inflated small craft Zodiac F470 to push onto the beach.
Together, with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines, the teams made their way to land where they spent the next few days conducting reconnaissance on a fictional village at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.
They were tasked with silently capturing intelligence and planning pathways to remain unnoticed by the enemy before calling in a company of infantry soldiers to secure the site.