The exercise saw over 1120 missions conducted from Friday 27 July to Friday 17 August 2018, with more than 4000 Australian and international participants and up to 140 aircraft involved at both RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal.
The exercise aims to strengthen regional partnerships, improve interoperability between nations and promote regional stability, according to Air Commodore Mike Kitcher, Officer Conducting the Exercise.
|Officer Conducting Exercise, Air Commodore Mike Kitcher, AM, DSM, engages with Darwin media at RAAF Base Darwin for the official start of Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
“When this exercise began in 1981, it was a few hundred Australians and Americans conducting air defence training in the Northern Territory.”
“The diversity of Exercise Pitch Black 2018 – whether it’s the range of nations involved, the different roles practiced, and even the participants themselves – all contribute to Air Force being better prepared for future operations.”
|Indian Air Force SU-30 Flanker aircraft conduct air to air refuelling from a Royal Australian Air Force No. 33 Squadron KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport during Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
Major exercise highlights included the debut of the RAAF’s E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, and C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter; and the creation of a Forward Operating Base at Batchelor Airfield, allowing Defence to rehearse delivery of forces for a peacekeeping or humanitarian response.
|An EA-18G Growler from Royal Australian Air Force No. 6 Squadron prepares for another mission during Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
|A Royal Australian Air Force No. 35 Squadron C-27J Spartan aircraft arrives at RAAF Tindal during Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
|A Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft lands at Batchelor Airfield in the Northern Territory during Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
International highlights include the Indian Air Force participating for the first time with the Lockheed C-130J Hercules and Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker aircraft as well as the Armee de l’Air (French Air Force) flying with the Dassault Rafale.
|An SU-30MKI Flanker aircraft from the Indian Air Force takes off from RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
|A French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) Dassault Rafale taxis after landing at RAAF Base Darwin in the lead up to Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
|An F-16 aircraft from the Indonesian Air Force taxis out of RAAF Base Darwin for another mission during Exercise Pitch Black 2018|
In one of the largest military training airspaces in the world, participant Air Forces at Exercise Pitch Black 2018 flew coordinated missions with up to 80 aircraft at a time.
For the Northern Territory public, highlights of this year’s Exercise Pitch Black included the Mindil Beach Flypasts and Flying Display, and an Open Day at RAAF Base Darwin which attracted up to 20,000 people.
|An MV-22 Osprey aircraft from the United States Marine Corps participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2018 displays capability over Mindil Beach, Darwin|
|A pair of C-130J Hercules from the Royal Australian Air Force participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2018 display their capability over Mindil Beach, Darwin|
|No. 1 Squadron personnel on hand to answer questions from the public at the Exercise Pitch Black 2018 open day|
|Pilots from the Royal Thai Air Force talk with the public about the JAS-39 Grippen aircraft during the Exercise Pitch Black 2018 open day|
“The support we get from the Northern Territory community is incredibly important to Exercise Pitch Black and Air Force, and we’re grateful for the positive response we receive,” Air Commodore Kitcher said.
“Many of the international participants would have been visiting Australia for the first time at this exercise, we’re proud they’ve experienced our country through the Northern Territory.”
Find out more at the Exercise Pitch Black 2018 webpage: https://www.airforce.gov.au/exercises/pitch-black
The exercise will return to the Northern Territory in mid-2020.
Report and Images Courtesy of Defence Media