The largest multi-national air force exercise in the southern hemisphere is drawing to a close today as Exercise Pitch Black 2012 wraps up.
The three week exercise, built around an opposing force scenario, saw large formations of aircraft operating out of RAAF Bases Tindal and Darwin in the Northern Territory. About 100 aircraft and 2200 personal from six countries took part.
The RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornets, Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport flew in the biannual exercise for the first time this year. Other first time participants including Indonesian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 Flanker fighters and Sinaporean F-15 Strike Eagles.
Indonesia’s contingent represented the first time the country has joined the exercise, a significant milestone as Australia seeks closer defence ties with its growing neighbour. The US, Thailand and New Zealand rounded out the multi-national contingent.
Air Commander Australia, Air Vice-Marshal Mel Hupfield, said more than 10,000 NT residents turned out for an open day on Sunday, demonstrating strong community support despite the considerable noise association with the exercise.
“Exercise Pitch Black would not be possible without the ongoing support of the Darwin and greater Northern Territory people,” Air Vice-Marshall Hupfeld said.