The media was yesterday invited to take a sneak peak at one of the most advanced battle space planes in the sky – the E-7A Wedgetail.
Camera equipment, phones, Apple watches and all other electronic devices were strictly not allowed on board.
We can tell you, however, what it was like to step into one of the most capable warplanes in the world.
On the outside it looks like any other commercial plane, but inside, it is a very different story.
Gone are the rows and rows of seats that would usually be used to cart people from place to place, and instead 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles line the sides.
Surveillance and control officers, like Brodie Jones, sit at decked out computers which look slightly old-school, but are in actual fact highly advanced, and survey the airspace from an altitude of 31,000 feet.
With radar coverage of 400km, the E-7A Wedgetail is the “new kid on the block”, surveillance and control officer Brodie Jones said.
“With the capabilities it has we’ve been getting invited to participate in a lot of American based exercises.
“It is the surveillance technology everyone wants to work with.
“Participating in operations in the Middle East for Operation Okra has proven the Wedgetail can do what it is supposed to do,” he said.
“It is about having situational awareness… about being the eyes and the ears in the battle space.”
Currently six E-7A Wedgetails are based in Williamtown, but Mr Jones said there is definitely scope for stationing one of the huge planes at Tindal in the future.
“The opportunity to come here for Pitch Black presents new dimensions and skills to master for the guys participating,” Mr Jones said.
For pilot Corey Church, who used to be a panel beater, flying the Wedgetail is the perfect office.
“The opportunity to participate in Pitch Black has presented opportunities to fly with different rules, rules in the Top End are different to Williamtown.
“It is less congested here as well,” he said.
Pitch Black exercises are offering up E-7A Wedgetail crew with a whole new scope of training possibilities.
When the E-7A Wedgetails are not participating in operations overseas or Pitch Black exercises, crews are in the air practicing for ‘what if’ situations.