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Major ANZUS exercise for Indian Ocean



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NO. 162/78 MONDAY. OCTOBER 9, 1978.

MAJOR ANZUS EXERCISE FOR INDIAN OCEAN

An ANZUS exercise involving ships and aircraft

from Australia, the United States and New Zealand will

be held in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western

Australia later this month.

The Minister for Defence, Mr D.J. Killen, today

said that the 11-day exercise, which would be known as

Exercise Sandgroper, had been foreshadowed earlier this

year by the Prime Minister. Mr Fraser, and the American

Vice President, Mr Walter Mondale, during Mr Mondale's

visit to Australia.

The Australian contribution to the exercise, which

would be under the direction of the Flag Officer Commanding

the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral G.J. Willis, would be

HMA Ships Supply, Stalwart, Torrens, Vendetta, Swan, Stuartj

and the two Oberon-class submarines Ovens and Onslow. In

addition, the RAAF would provide four F-lll strike aircraft,

three P3 Orion long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft

and a substantial back-up with C130 Hercules transport

aircraft. Added to this would be eight A4 Skyhawk aircraft

flown by the RAN Fleet Air Arm.

Mr Killen said the United States Navy would

contribute four vessels, the US Ships Kirk, Knox, Lockwood

and Ashtabula, and three P3 Orion aircraft.

The American air element to the exercise would be

boosted by "the presence of^eight-F4— Phantoms accompanied-

by two KC135 tanker aircraft, and considerable back-up

from C130 Hercules transport aircraft.

New Zealand would contribute one surface ship,

HMNZS Canterbury, and one P3 Orion aircraft.

Mr Killen said that almost simultaneously with

Exercise Sandgroper, another ANZUS maritime exercise

involving ships and aircraft of the three nations would

be staged on the other side of the continent, in the

South Pacific Ocean. That exercise is Longex 78 covering

the northern approaches to New Zealand.

He added that one of the features of Exercise

Sandgroper would be the activation of RAAF Base Pearce

from its normal role as a training base to that of an

active operational base. During the course of the

exercise more than 50 operational aircraft would be using

the facilities - a major test of the ability of this

western-most RAAF base to cope with such an influx.

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Further Enquiries; Mr Noel Tanswell 65 2999 (office hours) . 48 0476 (after hours)