More day and night flying

16th Air Land Regiment's SX-45 Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam Radar is unloaded from a C-17A Globemaster aircraft at Tindal air base during Exercise Pitch Black 2018. Pictures: Defence Media.
16th Air Land Regiment's SX-45 Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam Radar is unloaded from a C-17A Globemaster aircraft at Tindal air base during Exercise Pitch Black 2018. Pictures: Defence Media.

This week Operation Pitch Black moves into the Large Force Employment phase with day and night flying out of RAAF Bases Tindal and Darwin.

Military jets from around the world are taking part in the operation.

Day and night missions will be flown again over three weeks from the Tindal RAAF Base as part of Exercise Pitch Black.

The exercise is a large force employment biennial exercise conducted from RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal, using training ranges in the Northern Territory.

The exercise hosts up to 4000 personnel and up to 140 aircraft from around the globe including participants from Australia, Canada, France (New Caledonia), Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia and the United States and will include day and night flying.

Air Force personnel from various units have come together to perform the Opposing Force Ground Threat Team, providing inflatable targets for fast jets participating in the operation.

Simulated target systems will be set up at identified locations to increase the training value to aircrew said Squadron Leader Scott Youngs, Air Warfare Centre Ranges.

“The target systems in use, simulated missile systems, inflatable weapons systems or vehicle convoys, all represent threat systems that the participating aircrew will seek to identify or avoid in relation to their mission objectives,” said SQNLDR Youngs.

“Positioning the systems on public areas adds to the realism of the scenario by having systems at different locations during the course of the exercise.

“This adds to the complexity by requiring aircrew to differentiate between non-combatant items (caravan, road trains, etc.) and the simulated threat systems.

“There is no risk to the general public in relation to the positioning of these systems in public area.”

Air Force is asking the public not to approach these items due to safety areas required to minimise the potential for personnel being injured.  

The targets are being operated in support of Ex Pitch Black.

Exercise Pitch Black is the conducted in the Northern territory from 27th of July to the 17th of August and involves personnel from 16 different nations.

The exercise aims to strengthen regional partnerships, improve interoperability between nations and promote regional stability.

Thousands of aviation enthusiasts flooded through the RAAF Base Darwin gates on the weekend to get up close and personal to Australian and international aircraft on display.

Families across the Darwin community and as far away as Litchfield streamed through the gates to enjoy the free community event and rare opportunity to meet the crews who fly, operate and maintain these aircraft.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to the Northern Territory community for their ongoing support during Exercise Pitch Black,” said Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Noddy Sawade, RAAF Director Air Shows.

“This year we hosted close to 20,000 people. It’s fantastic to see people take the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the exercise and different types of aircraft and nations involved.” AIRCDRE Sawade said.

“The Northern Territory really is a beautiful part of Australia and we feel proud to be part of the community. We look forward to seeing you for Pitch Black 2020”.

There were also regular performances from the Air Force Band and displays by the Military Working Dogs and their handers.

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