Exercise Pitch Black is a multinational war game considered to be one of premier air combat exercise in the world. Encompassing a full spectrum of scenarios that make up modern air warfare, participating air forces use the opportunity to provide realistic, high-end air combat training for aircrew, while at the same time building and cementing professional and personal friendships among the participants.
RMAF participated in the Pitch Black for the first time in 2008. Six F/A-18D Hornet from No 18 Squadron and one KC-130H air-to-air refuelling tanker from No 20 Squadron together with over 100 men involved in this three weeks exercise in RAAF Darwin together with other OCA players.
Undoubtedly, involvement in this large-scale exercise was an eye-opener for RMAF in terms of planning and execution of this complex exercise. Numerous experience and lesson regarding involvement in multiple aircraft environment while carrying out multiple type of air-to-air and air-to-ground roles such as Fighter Sweep, Screen, Escort, Strike, Close Air Support and others has been learned. By having vast Australian airspace over Northern Territory and huge number of aircraft involves, all these missions/roles were made possible to be carried out at a given specific “war time” period. The complexity of the warfare can be seen here as the flow of the exercise dictated by a given scenario that mirror the real war/conflict.
One of the key competencies that has been developed by RMAF aircrew is the ability to put together different assets and capabilities from different nations; developing tactics, strategy and game plans to integrate the various platforms together in order to achieve mission success.