Pitch Black exercise

The biennial international air combat training exercise, Pitch Black 14, has begun in Northern Territory, Australia.

The three-week exercise that began today will involve approximately 2,300 participants from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, France, the UAE and the US.

Up to 110 aircraft, including Australian Super Hornets, KC-30A tankers, E-7A Wedgetail and C-130J, Singaporean F-15SGs and F-16C/Ds, Thai Gripens, French CN-235, and US F-16C/Ds and B-52Hs are participating in the exercise.

The UAE Air Force is taking part in the event for the first time with its A330 multirole tanker transport aircraft and Mirage 2000-9 fighters.

During the exercise, the participating air forces will undertake air support operations from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Bases Darwin and Tindal.

Australia air commander air vice marshal Mel Hupfeld previously said: "The Northern Territory is ideally placed for exercise participants to bring together aircraft to conduct operations that feature a range of realistic and simulated threats found in the modern battlespace environment.

"The three-week exercise that began today will involve approximately 2,300 participants."

"Conducting Exercise Pitch Black 14 is a massive undertaking, not just for aircrews and maintainers but also for the planning that is involved."

The exercise will have only day-time operations in the first week, and both day and night flights in the subsequent two weeks.

Exercise Pitch Black 14 is scheduled to conclude on 22 August.

Aimed at promoting international cooperation, the event has taken place since 2000.

In previous years, Indonesia has participated in Pitch Black, but Australian Aviation reports Indonesia has abstained from participating in this year’s event following Austalia’s implementation of its boat turnback policy for asylum seeker boats.

Image: A Singaporean C-130 Hercules aircraft during Exercise Pitch Black 12 in Australia. Photo: courtesy of Ken Hodge.

Defence Technology