RSAF fighter jets join Exercise Pitch Black in Australia

An RSAF engineer checking out an F-16 at the RAAF Base in Darwin yesterday. F-15s and F-16s are among the RSAF planes involved in Exercise Pitch Black, the largest multilateral air combat exercise held in Australia.
An RSAF engineer checking out an F-16 at the RAAF Base in Darwin yesterday. F-15s and F-16s are among the RSAF planes involved in Exercise Pitch Black, the largest multilateral air combat exercise held in Australia.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The thunderous boom of four Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SG fighters pierced the quiet of the night as they roared one after another off the runway into an expansive and cloudless pitch black sky, their purple afterburners glowing.

The F-15SGs were among at least 30 military planes that lifted off yesterday in the span of 11/2 hours at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base, Darwin, for a night mission that is part of Exercise Pitch Black, held in Darwin, Australia.

Exercise Pitch Black, which the RSAF is participating in, is the largest multilateral air combat exercise held in the Australian continent. Hosted by the RAAF, the exercise involves about 2,800 personnel and 115 aircraft from 10 participating countries and ends on Aug 19.

The RSAF's planes involved in the exercise include F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, the G-550 early warning aircraft, and the KC-135, which can refuel military aircraft in midair.

In the exercise, air forces will practise large-formation offensive operations, as well as counter air and offensive air support operations. There will also be day and night flights.

"Exercises like Pitch Black provide the Australian air force and foreign militaries with… a chance to test operational air and ground crew to the highest level," said Flight Lieutenant Earnon Hamilton of the Australian Defence Force in a video posted on the exercise's webpage.

"These exercises reinforce the strong relationship Australia has with other participant nations."

This year's exercise will have the highest number of participating countries since it was established in 1990. Joining the exercise this year for the first time are Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. Other participating nations include the United States and Indonesia.

The RSAF has been participating regularly in the biennial air combat exercise since its inception.

The air force also uses the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Australia annually for Exercise Wallaby. The exercise typically focuses on the integration of air and land operations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'RSAF fighter jets join Exercise Pitch Black in Australia'. Print Edition | Subscribe