Early October saw the deployment of eight F/A-18F Super Hornets to RAAF Base Townsville for Exercise Nigrum Pugio. The exercise featured predominately day flights with limited nighttime operations centred around the Townsville Field Training Area.
“Exercise Nigrum Pugio is a biannual, joint live-fire exercise which enables the Australian Army’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) to undergo training, assessment and evaluation… The exercise allowed soldiers to conduct complex, scenario-based training in a simulated battlespace, with the integration of live and augmented aircraft to achieve a manoeuvre commander’s intent.”Department of Defence
Exercise Nigrum Pugio is traditionally held in conjunction with Exercise Black Dagger and/or Phoenix Black, making the October deployment a rather rare exception to this. Whilst Classic Hornet crews typically operate these exercises alongside the Australian Army, the Super Hornet is no stranger with VFA-27 and VFA-115 from the US Navy participating in 2015 and 2017. The exercise sees a wide array of weapons employed on the range including guided bombs, unguided bombs and air-to-ground cannons.
This exercise marks the first time the Super Hornet has visited Townsville in almost two years when sixteen aircraft were deployed in support of the 2018 APEC Summit with No. 1 Squadron providing close air patrol overhead Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.
Crews left Townsville on the 16th of October, making their way back to Amberley with a low-level route through the Whitsunday Islands and the Sunshine Coast.
Want to read more about deployments to Townsville? Check out our article on the final Classic Hornet OPCON course here!