With week one of Exercise Pitch Black 2022 drawing to a close, the Royal Australian Air Force have hosted a series of events across the Top End to thank the local community for their support.
Mindil Beach Flypast
Situated along Darwin’s coastline and looking out over the Timor Sea, Mindil Beach played host to a large aerial display from participating exercise aircraft on Thursday the 25th of August. Kicking off at 5pm, the display spanned just over an hour with sixteen different acts from all ten flying nations.
A wide variety of aircraft were on display ranging from the Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey operated by the United States Marine Corps through to the Indian Sukhoi SU-30MKI and an Airbus A330-200 MRTT of the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU).
Closing the show at 6:15pm was a RAAF Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II putting on a handling display against a stunning sunset backdrop.
RAAF Base Darwin Open Day
Building upon Thursday’s flypast, RAAF Base Darwin opened its’ gates to the public with the biennial Pitch Black Open Day. Hosted on the Bomber Replenishment Apron (recently having undergone a US-funded extension seeing hot pit refuels with B-1B Lancers) on the southern side of the airport, a large static display was set up with a mixture of aircraft and stalls with the community given an opportunity to get close and personal with the military hardware and interact with crew. Alongside Pitch Black aircraft, the Australian Army flew an ARH Tiger from the nearby Robertson Barracks alongside civilian static displays including locally based Grumman Mallard VH-PPE and Douglas DC-3 VH-MMA.
Highlights of the open day included the highly adorned German Eurofighter Typhoon 31+11 dubbed the ‘Air Ambassador’ alongside the South Korean contingent with aircrew and personnel on hand with flight suits and helmets for kids to try on with their seldom seen KF-16 on static display.
Visitors were also treated to two RAAF Lockheed Martin F-35As from No. 75 Squadron arriving back from a flypast as part of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea.
Derby Handling Display
Over the period between 22 – 25 August, the RAAF and USMC redeployed a number of Lockheed Martin F-35A and F-35B Lighting IIs from RAAF Base Tindal to RAAF Base Curtin in Western Australia, putting the ‘bare base’ into use during Exercise Pitch Black for the first time since 2006. As a thanks to the local community in nearby Derby, a RAAF F-35A put on a handling display in the afternoon on the 24th of August.
As the exercise enters its’ second week, it’s lights out and aircrews enter into true ‘Pitch Black’ night-time sorties. This week, The Aviation Studio will be joining the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to provide a closer look into this year’s iteration of the exercise.