Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Exercise High Sierra 2015 almost complete.

With the end in sight, the next generation of Fighter Pilots only have a few missions left to prove they have what it takes to fly the F/A-18 Hornet. After 6 months at 2OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) the students and Squadron move to RAAF Townsville for the final 3 week stage of the 15-1 Course. ASO was invited along for one of these weeks to get a closer look at just how real it gets.

F/A-18B Hornet A21-108 2OCU & PC-9 FAC A23-031 4SQN.
F/A-18B Hornet A21-108 2OCU & PC-9 FAC A23-031 4SQN  join up for a very rare photo opportunity after a very long day at the range.

Working with 4SQN FAC (Forward Air Control) 2OCU put the students to the test and out at the range this was demonstrated with the use of live 1000lb HE (High Explosive) bombs. Capturing the action from 3km away, the power could still be felt on some of the drops. I took close to 3000 photographs, HD video of each drop plus Gopro footage of some of the passes on one day alone at the range. So if you haven’t already become an ASO subscriber for email notifications I suggest you do (on the right of this page) for the full article once the students have completed the 15-1 course. To give you an idea of just how good the range is, here are two photo’s of one of the drops. Just remember the distance is just on 3km.

F/A-18B Hornet A21-108 2OCU
F/A-18B Hornet A21-108 2OCU entering the range with a load of 2x 1000lb HE Bombs.


2 x 1000lb HE Bombs with slow drags chutes about to impact
2 x 1000lb HE Bombs with slow drags chutes about to impact the target.


2 x 1000lb HE Bombs impact the target.
2 x 1000lb HE Bombs impact the target.

A very nice pass by A21-108 showing off the 2 x 1000lb HE live weapons that are about to be used.

F/A-18B Hornet A21-108 2OCU
F/A-18B Hornet A21-108 2OCU with a very nice underside view of the 2 x 1000lb live HE weapons.


ASO would like to thank the Royal Australian Air Force, 2OCU, 4SQN and the students for this exclusive access. Once the course is complete the full article on this exercise will be released.- Mark Jessop


    1. Thank’s Robert for the feed back on the photographs. I have a huge amount of photo’s and video to look at but what you see isn’t the best so hang in till the end of the course and then we all can see some sweet photo’s and video . Cheers Mark.

  1. Great photos as usual, Mark. Can’t wait to see the finished product. One question: Would the HE bombs be hi-drag with the chutes attached?

    1. Thank’s Trevor for the kind words on the photographs. I was told low by the source out there with me as they are very small chutes but you could be right mate. I will confirm asap. Cheers Mark

    2. Hi Trevor.. think they call this Mk82 tail configuration a ballute (cross between balloon and chute) Not sure as to it’s drag efficiency compared to the old ‘Snake-eye” with the petals. May be for higher release speeds too, as the old snake eye tails occasionally went ‘slick’…. gave us Gunnies the odd UXB demolition practice at the range, which was always welcomed. 🙂

  2. Correction to my previous reply – Mk83 (1000lb) , not Mk82 (500lb) as I mentioned. BIG difference …especially at the receiving end.

  3. Yep, “MK-83 AIR” HIGH drags, with ballute tail (air inflated retard chutes). The normal term is either LOW drag or HIGH drag which you can select in the cockpit….but the HIGH drags sure get slow 😉 The jet it is a long distance away by the time they impact. Cool looking rooster in the PC9 😛

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