Australia readies for multinational exercise Talisman Sabre

F-35 aircraft of the Australian Defense Force are expected to play a major role in Exercise Talisman 2021, a multi-national drill involving about 17,000 personnel, in July. Photo courtesy of Australian Department of Defense

Australia is preparing to host the biennial training Exercise Talisman Sabre, this year with a reduced force, the Australian Defense Department announced.

About 17,000 personnel will participate, Lt. Gen. Greg Bilton, chief of operations, said in a statement on Tuesday.

About 1,800 arriving troops from the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Britain will face a mandatory two-week quarantine before joining exercises with the Australian Defense Force largely in northeastern Queensland state.

“[Australia’s Department of] Defense will keep the public well-informed of planned activities and movements, implement COVID-19-safe plans agreed to with the states and territories to mitigate the risks of COVID-19,” Bilton said.

“The ADF, together with our United States and visiting partner nations, are committed to delivering a safe exercise, not just for the personnel involved, but the community as well,” Bilton said.

France, Indonesia and India will participate as observers of the exercises, which are scheduled to begin on July 14 and conclude on July 31.

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The event, conducted biennially since 2007, traditionally is a show of force and of new technology.

Talisman Sabre 2019 involved over 34,000 personnel from 18 countries, and included Australia’s first look at the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35B fighter plane.

Assistant Defense Secretary Ross Babbage, at January’s announcement of the 2021 exercise, said that Australia’s new F-35A Lightning II iteration is expected to participate in the drills.

Australia has 25 F-35As and plans to eventually have 72 in three operational squadrons and a training squadron.

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