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In a first on Australian soil, US fires Patriot missile during Talisman Sabre drill

Patriot missile firing in Australia during Talisman Sabre
Photo: Australian defense ministry

The international exercise Talisman Sabre taking place in Queensland has introduced the first-ever firing of a MIM-104 Patriot missile in Australia.

The missile firing took place on July 16, at the Shoalwater Bay training area, where the missile systems were transported ahead of the exercise.

Talisman Sabre is the largest bilateral military engagement between Australia and the United States and will involve more than 17,000 personnel, deploying across central and northeast Queensland and off the east coast of Australia, as well as 40 aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force. In addition to the US, forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom will participate in TS21.

During the Patriot missile firing, the missiles tracked target drones more than 20km away at speeds of up to Mach 4.

“There were a lot of checks and balances done to get these weapons and a lot of research to get the technical data we require,” Captain Barend Nieuwoudt, of the 10th Force Support Battalion, said.

A US Army M901 launching station in position in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland ahead of the launch of the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system during Exercise Talisman Sabre. Photo: Corporal Madhur Chitnis

The Patriot guided surface-to-air missile was developed in the 1980s to defend against aircraft and to provide cover for NATO forces against the signatories of the Warsaw Pact.

It was later upgraded to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and has since been deployed to the Middle East by the US and its allies.

Three different types of Patriot missiles are in service, according to US Army air-defense artilleryman Staff Sergeant Brendon Street, with the PAC-2 Patriot missiles fired during Talisman Sabre.

Other live-fire events during Talisman Sabre will include M777 Howitzers and the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System vehicle-based rocket artillery.

In another first, the advanced field artillery tactical data system will coordinate fires between Australia and United States artillery.

The live-fire will also include F/A-18s and naval gunfire from Australian, Japanese and American ships.

After the live-fire exercises at Shoalwater Bay, an amphibious landing will be conducted at Bowen before cavalry and infantry training in Townsville.

Talisman Sabre kicked off on July 14 and will run through July 31.