Pitch Black 2016 begins

Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16D aircraft prepare to depart RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Pitch Black 2016.
Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16Ds prepare to depart RAAF Base Darwin. (Defence)

The RAAF’s major multinational large-force employment exercise, Pitch Black, is under way.

Up to 115 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the US are participating in the three-week long Exercise Pitch Black 2016, which officially began on July 29 and continues through to August 19. Flying operations began on Monday with aircraft operating out of RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal in the Northern Territory to utilise the Northern Territory’s vast Delamere Range Facility and Bradshaw Field Training Area.

Major exercises such as Pitch Black are essential in ensuring Air Force remains ready to respond whenever the Australian Government requiresAir Commodore Christopher Sawade, Head of Special Events, said.

Fast jets participating in Pitch Black include Thai and Indonesian F-16As, Singaporean F-15SGs and F-16Ds, USAF F-16CJs and RAAF Hornets and Super Hornets. Transport aircraft include Canadian and USMC KC-130 Hercules tankers, a Royal Thai Air Force C-130H Hercules and a New Caledonian-based French air force CN-235, as well the RAAF’s KC-30A tanker transport. Support aircraft include a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail and a Singaporean Gulfstream G550 CAEW platform.

The general public can get a taste of Pitch Black with an aircraft handling display over Darwin’s Mindil Beach on Thursday August 11 and an open day at RAAF Base Darwin on Saturday August 13. There is also a publicly accessible viewing area located off Amy Johnson Avenue on the eastern side of RAAF Base Darwin.

The RAAF will publishing video news updates on Pitch Black on Youtube, the first of which can be seen below:

A CN-235 from the French Armee De L'Air sits on the tarmac after arriving at RAAF Base Darwin for Exercise Pitch Black 2016.
The French Armee de l’Air on the tarmac after arriving at RAAF Base Darwin.
A C-130H Hercules from the Royal Thai Air Force sits on the tarmac after arriving at RAAF Base Darwin for Exercise Pitch Black 2016.
A Royal Thai Air Force C-130H. (Defence)
Arrival of Indonesian Air Force F-16A aircraft at RAAF Base Darwin for Exercise Pitch Black 2016.
An Indonesian F-16 touches down at RAAF Base Darwin. (Defence)


  1. Fabian says

    Unfortunately the RAF is doing their own things at the farnbourough air show. Probably next time. The RAF will join with some if their panavia tornados and typhoons. And yes adam this is what I like to stare at the most. Mmmmmmm……that jet engine of that f-16 tho. And then c-130 is sexy…. To much for me.

  2. boleropilot says

    wondered why it’s so quiet around Amberley at the moment – man those Rhinos are noisy (not that I mind, being an aviation tragic) – can anyone tell me why their ingress to YAMB from the south-east seems to have dropped from about 400 knots to about 200 ?

  3. Myles Dobinson says

    After all the cuts to UK defence they would be flat out getting Typhoons here let alone Tornado’s. I think they only have three Sqn of Tornado’s now anyway.

  4. Daryl says

    Off Topic…..

    Statement by Secretary Carter on Air Force F-35A Achieving IOC

    Press Operations

    Release No: NR-289-16
    Aug. 2, 2016



    I want to congratulate the U.S. Air Force on today’s announcement that the F-35A has achieved initial operational capability. This is a significant milestone for an aircraft that will allow the U.S. to maintain the advantage of air superiority for years to come. I know that even after being declared combat ready, there is more work to do with this critical program, but the Air Force, Air Combat Command and the men and women of Hill Air Force Base should be proud of this major step forward for the F-35A.