An F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jet flies over central Brisbane during exercise Riverfire in September 2023. Photo/ABC News/Alfred Beales
CANBERRA – Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilots were offered psychological assistance after intercepting Chinese fighter jets in the South China Sea.
The news was disclosed by RAAF Air Commander Deputy Air Marshal Darren Goldie.
“The mental health of our pilots and people… dealing with things like interceptions or radio challenges… it’s important that when we bring them back, we talk to them about the experience,” Goldie told the ABC on Sunday.
“The RAAF is keeping pilots informed about what services are available, should they be distracted by the experience they are seeing,” he said.
“Particular attention is paid to the welfare of the pilots who are not in the pilot’s seat, as they have less control in stressful encounters,” he said.
According to Goldie, the preparation of Australian airmen for the mission has also progressed as “we have seen a change in the operational environment” over the South China Sea.
Most of this body of water in the Western Pacific Ocean is claimed by Beijing as part of its own territory, despite overlapping claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
The United States (US) and its allies, including Australia, have conducted frequent naval and air missions in the South China Sea in recent times, as Washington insists, “the US challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant.”
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