The Royal Australian Air Force's massive,biannual air combat exercise Pitch Black 16 continues on this week.The multinational drills are focusing on offensive and defensive air combat in a simulated war environment.With up to 115 aircraft and more than 2500 personnel,Pitch Black is running from 29 July to 19 August in the vast open skies of the sparsely populated Northern Territory,based at RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindal about 300 kilometers to the south,and utilising both the Delamere Range Facility and Bradshaw Field Training Area.*
Participating besides the host nation are the US,Canada,Germany,Singapore,Indonesia,New Zealand,Caledonia,Thailand,France and the Netherlands.It was Germany's first participation in Australia's largest air exercise.The UK is not participating this time because of other obligations at the Farnborough Air Show.*
Besides several US Air Force,Thai and Indonesian F-16 and Singaporean F-15 fighters,as well as Australian F-18 Hornets and Superhornets,many transport aircraft and tankers are involved in the war games as well,such as the US Marine Corps KC-130 tanker and the Australian KC-30A tanker/transport.In the Pitch Black scenario,the Red Force from Tindal is the aggressor against the Darwin Blue force with increasing complexity as the drills progress.Air defence systems will be tested and allied forces will develop how they operate together.Air to air combat;air to ground attack;command and control;and tactical air transport will be tested by large formations of aircraft practising challenging air operations.In today's air war,it's more about integrating into a complex and joint environment than achieving mission goals as an individual,providing immediate and responsive military options across the spectrum of operations.Air-land integration is also a new emphasis,as the US Army's 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment works with Australian Army counterparts to develop a joint approach to enable ground forces to communicate in real time with aircraft.
Troop transport and forward air controller drills are also being incorporated in Pitch Black 16 as part of the air-ground integration package.*
Such mutually beneficial tactics and procedures will build an effective coalition,as a larger team needs to operate cohesively in order to achieve success as well as stabilise and secure the Asia-Pacific region.