op End skies will start filling with military aircraft from ten nations as the Royal Australian Air Force’s Exercise Pitch Black starts in the Northern Territory today.
More than 4000 personnel and 140 aircraft from Canada, France, New Caledonia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand and the United States will take part in the exercise from today until 17 August.
Exercise Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s biennial, capstone International Engagement activity with about 15 Air Forces participating from a range of regional and coalition nations.
Air Commander Australia, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Steve Roberton, said the exercise aims to strengthen regional partnerships, improve interoperability between nations and promote regional stability.
“The exercise will be conducted in northern Australia from today until 17 August, with forces predominantly based at RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindal and a forward operating base at Batchelor Aerodrome,” AVM Roberton said.
“Pitch Black is a large-scale operational collective training activity that includes fast jets, transport and other aircraft in a multi-national coalition environment.
“The exercise will include day and night flying and will be undertaken with consideration given to minimise the impact on the local community and the environment.
“We thank the Territory community for their support and will hold a number of public events including a Mindil Beach flying display on 2 Aug, RAAF Darwin Open Day on 4 August and other activities.
“We also look forward to showcasing the Northern Territory to our international visitors – it’s a great part of the world to visit at this time of the year.”
Fast jet activities will be based out of RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal.
Other flying activities will involve KC-30A flying from RAAF Base Amberley in south-east Queensland and a remote Batchelor Aerodrome, south of Darwin.
The Batchelor Airfield component will include a field hospital, stabilisation and security operations including Army and Air Force elements, logistical support to maintain a remote airbase and the C-27J operating remotely as an exercise participant for the first time in the Northern Territory.