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Exercise Pitch Black draws to a close

Exercise Pitch Black draws to a close

Exercise Pitch Black 2012, Australia’s biennial air combat training activity, will conclude today after three weeks of offensive counter air and offensive air support operations that included large formations of multi-national aircraft over Northern Territory skies.

The exercise was the result of months of successful work by participating nation’s including Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, Indonesia and New Zealand.

Air Commander Australia, Air Vice-Marshal Mel Hupfeld, said all involved gained valuable experience from participating in a high tempo, multi-national air operations environment.

“This is vitally important for all of our aircrew, maintainers and support staff,” Air Vice-Marshall Hupfeld said.

“The first time inclusion of the RAAF Super Hornet, Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft contributed to a more complex undertaking this year.

“The success of the exercise is testament to the professionalism, planning and flexibility of all participating nations.”

Pitch Black 2012 was also the first time Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) Sukhoi SU 27 and SU 30 Flanker aircraft, Singaporean F15 Strike Eagles and G550 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft participated. Their involvement provided greater air combat interoperability opportunities with unique aircraft types.

“Exercise Pitch Black would not be possible without the ongoing support of the Darwin and greater Northern Territory people,” Air Vice-Marshall Hupfeld said.

“The crowds at both the Mindil Beach F18 Handling Display and the 10,000 plus at the Pitch Black Open Day demonstrated the overwhelming community support, which we greatly appreciate.”

Commencing today, the 2200 exercise personnel and 100 aircraft will start a gradual departure from RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal and return to their home bases around Australia and the near region. The Republic of Singapore Air Force will remain at Darwin for a further two weeks under an ongoing Defence arrangement to continue independent air combat activities to achieve additional training objectives.

Pitch Black is a biennial exercise and is scheduled to occur again in mid 2014.

© Scoop Media

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