The Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SG fighter aircraft (right) flying in formation with the Royal Australian Air Force's F-18A fighter aircraft ((left) during Exercise Pitch Black 2012. (photo : Sing Mindef)
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) sent six F-15SGs and a Gulfstream 550 airborne early warning (G550-AEW) aircraft for the first time to Exercise Pitch Black, from 27 Jul to 16 Aug. Held in Darwin, Australia, the multilateral air combat exercise is conducted once every two years and hosted by Australia.
Besides the RSAF, other participants include the Indonesian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), the United States Air Force, and the United States Marine Corps.
On the RSAF's objectives at this year's exercise, RSAF exercise director Senior Lieutenant Colonel Lim Chee Meng said: "Through working together with the other platforms from the other participating air forces, we hope to establish greater understanding and interoperability with them."
He added: "Exercise Pitch Black is a very complex and high-end training exercise which has provided some very interesting and challenging air combat opportunities for our airmen. It allows for more realistic training to hone their skills and bring out the best in them."
One of the six F-15SGs participating in multilateral air exercise for the first time. (photo : Sing Mindef)
The exercise, which comprises day and night air combat operations and air-to-air refuelling missions, involves about 2,500 personnel and 100 aircraft. Besides the F-15SGs and the G550-AEW, the RSAF sent eight F-16C/D fighter aircraft and a KC-135R air-to-air refuelling tanker.
Said RSAF pilot Captain Max Ng: "With the greater airspace available here (in Darwin), we are able to try out new tactics. This has definitely provided us with the opportunities to explore challenging air combat scenarios for our air and ground crew. By putting together all these elements in this exercise, we are able to sharpen our operational readiness and combative edge."
On the RSAF's part in the exercise, RAAF's exercise director, Group Captain Mike Kitcher said: "We find it very easy to operate with the RSAF and, obviously, we value their participation."
The RSAF has been participating in the exercise since 1990. Exercise Pitch Black also highlights the professional cooperation between the RSAF and the other exercise participants.