Page 27 - Australian Defence Magazine Oct 2018
P. 27

Besides Darwin and Tindal, participat- ingaircraftwerealsobasedatBatchelorand Kununurra for the exercise and the RAAF’s KC-30A tanker operated from and to its home base at Amberley to support air to air refuelling operations.
Because it is the attacking Blue Air which derives the most training value from the missions, most of the forces switched roles from one day to the next, to make sure that everyone benefitted from the experience to the maximum extent possible.
“Pitch Black is a 16-nation coalition and we conduct the exercise at the unclassified level, but the training that we get is second to none and there are very few places in the world with the wide-open spaces we have here in the Top End, where you can put 80 fast jets together,” AIRCDRE Kitcher explained.
“And flying 80 fast jets brings a mass and complexityallofitsown,sowhileallpartic- ipants may have to in some way limit what they do (to keep the exercise at the unclas- sified level), we still get excellent training out of it and the mass on mass is part of that excellent training.”
The exercise began on July 27, with a week of Force Integration Training (FIT) activi- ties, which saw force elements from differ- ent nations flying relatively uncomplicated missions, to familiarise themselves with the airspace and procedures and get used to working in multi-national packages.
The second and third weeks were given over to the LFE missions which were flown both by day and night.
“This week we’ve had a day crew and a night crew, because of the length of the
missions, and next week they will swap over,” AIRCDRE Kitcher told ADM during week two of the exercise. “Day and night bring their own complexity to the missions but, flying by night over the Territory when you take your night vi- sion goggles off, it is actually pitch black – hence the name of the exercise – and that brings a further complexity.
“Whilst we will be conducting similar mis- sions, which will include strikes on the ranges at Bradshaw and Delamere and escorting aircraft such as the C-17 and C-27 to and from the target area, the complexity of those missions and the number of aircraft might increase just a little bit,” AIRCDRE Kitcher added. “Also, the ‘wily-ness’ of Red Air might be allowed to increase just a little bit as well, which is sure to challenge all the crews.” | October 2018 | 27

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