Exercise Pitch Black: 60 roaring jets in Australian skies in 90 minutes, IAF takes part in mass take off


The Australian skies witnessed a miraculous display of might when 60 jets took off in just 90 minutes from its air base as part of Exercise Pitch Black. Among the jets which were part of the mass take off were fast-jet, mobility, and air-to-air refueling aircraft.

These jets belonged to the Australian Air Force, Indian Air Force, Indonesian Air Force, Singapore Air Force, United States Air Force, French Air Force, Royal Malaysia Airforce and Thai Air Force.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Battle Managers are joined by controllers from India, Germany and Canada to target, track and direct friendly and “enemy” aircraft on Exercise Pitch Black.

Wing Commander Brett Risstrom, Commanding Officer No 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (114MCRU), said that this year’s Exercise has provided new opportunities to develop skills with more international air forces during simulated aerial combat.

“At Exercise Pitch Black 2018 we’ve been able to integrate fighter control teams, including for the first time controllers from India, Germany and Canada as one team,” he was in a release by Australian Air Force.

The Air Battle managers sit together among a wall of screens in their shipping container-sized cabins in RAAF Base Darwin. They carefully watch the tracks on the monitors representing aircraft speeding across the area of operations. They direct the aircraft and help the aircrews find, track and target multiple incoming enemy aircraft across the Northern Territory during long and intense hours of simulated combat.

Sergeant (SGT) Ryan Mckee from No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit said the exercise is about coordinating to put “Blue” aircraft in the right place at the right time. “We’re looking at where the ‘Red’ are and where they’re coming from to ensure we have a safe air picture and also dominate the skies,” SGT Mckee said.

Exercise Pitch Black is the Air Force’s premier air warfare exercise with 16 nations participating in the exercise in 2018.

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