The role of Air Surveillance Operators
is examined in the first article in what will be a regular feature
on the different musterings.
WOFF Col Peat
Aircraftwoman Karen Barnett performs surveillance duties
with No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit.
Photo by LAC Clint Siggins
AUSTRALIA is a large continent and from its coastline stretch vast
areas of ocean and sky.
The surveillance and security of Australias skies is the responsibility
of the Air Force, specifically members of No. 41 Wing within the
Surveillance and Control Group (SCG). 41WG units, using sophisticated
electronic equipment, detect, identify and control the interception
by fighter aircraft of enemy, unknown aircraft or surface vessels,
a task which is challenging, exciting and rewarding.
The two major roles of Air Defence are the surveillance of the area
of responsibility and the control of fighters. The primary objective
of air surveillance is to establish and maintain an up-to-date and
accurate picture of air and surface activities within Australias
airspace using a network of radars. The major objective of controlling
fighters is the timely and accurate interception of targets using
the available assets in the most efficient and effective manner.
To accomplish these two roles the Air Force operates a network of
radars within Australia. During exercises, other surveillance and
control elements, such as Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C)
aircraft, RAN ships and civilian agencies may provide additional
information or control options.
An Australian designed and built Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR) is
now operational and feeds long-range surveillance information into
the network. Three OTHRs provide surveillance coverage of all of
northern Australia and its approaches. This network is referred
to as Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN). Air Surveillance
Operators (ASOPs) are employed extensively within the JORN system.
To assist in the achievement of the Air Defence roles, ASOPs are
primarily concerned with the surveillance aspects. They are trained
to operate radar systems, high technology computers, advanced display
systems, extensive communications systems (including satellite data
links), and intelligence equipment used in air and surface surveillance
operations. ASOPs gain valuable experience working with both coalition
air forces and Australian joint forces in defence exercises regularly
conducted in Australia.
The majority of ASOPs are employed at one of the Control and Reporting
Units (CRUs) and within the JORN at No. 1 Radar Surveillance Unit
(RSU). Although most are employed at 3CRU (Williamtown), SACTU (Williamtown),
114MCRU (Darwin) or 1RSU (Edinburgh), owing to the various skill
sets that ASOPs hold, they can offer support to other employment
groups. For example, the mustering currently has a number of personnel
employed in Air Traffic Control flights.
The ASOP mustering is one of the few trades that has grown in numbers
in the past couple of years and enjoys the challenge of new equipment
and capability being brought into ADF service.
For more information about ASOPs, contact mustering sponsor Warrant
Officer Col Peat at (02) 492 86156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.