20 Agustus 2016

Australia Looks to Future Growler and JSF Participation as Largest and Most Complex 'Pitch Black' Exercise Concludes

20 Agustus 2016

RAAF F-35 (photo : RAAF)

The Royal Australian Air Force hosted its biennial 'Pitch Black' multilateral air combat exercise from 29 July to 19 August. Up to 115 aircraft and about 2,800 personnel from 10 countries participated in this year's edition, which made it the largest yet in the exercise series since it was established in 1990.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is already anticipating the introduction of new capabilities and platforms for the 2018 iteration of its biennial multilateral air combat exercise series, codenamed 'Pitch Black', even as the curtain on this year's event drew to a close on 19 August.

According to details provided by the RAAF, 'Pitch Black' 2016 comprised up to 115 aircraft and about 2,800 personnel drawn from Australia and nine other countries, which included the returning entries of France (New Caledonia), Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States, while Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands participated for the first time.
RAAF Growler (photo : Australian Aviation)

The three-week exercise, which commenced on 29 July, was conducted from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal in northern Australia and extensively employed the vast airspace over Bradshaw Training Area and Delamere Air Weapons Range for large formation offensive counter air/defensive counter air (OCA/DCA) missions as well as offensive air support operations in day and night conditions.

"One of the unique elements of this exercise is that we [have done] a high intensity period flowing into a low intensity period and then into another high intensity period," Group Captain Glen Braz, exercise director of 'Pitch Black' 2016, told IHS Jane's during a briefing. "That has allowed us to take that fighter-heavy high intensity period and get some lessons and information out of that for the low intensity period and refine it with ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and airlift operations, and employ the dynamic targeting products from that ISR period into the following high intensity segment."


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