A forecast of Lightning for Pitch Black

Dominating the skies of the Northern Territory, the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) F-35A Lightning II will participate in Exercise Pitch Black for the first time.

CAPTION: An Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft during Exercise Arnhem Thunder, held at RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory. Story by Flight Lieutenant Bronwyn Marchant. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Stewart Gould.

Transitioning from the Classic Hornet to the F-35A since the last iteration of Exercise Pitch Black, Nos. 3 and 75 Squadron will be putting the RAAF’s fifth-generation aircraft through its paces in a multi-national air combat environment.

Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Adrian Kiely, said Pitch Black provides an outstanding opportunity for detailed training with our partners through large-force mission planning and execution.

“Exercise Pitch Black is the largest Australian-based international exercise 81 Wing has participated in since transitioning to the F-35A and we’re excited by the opportunity to integrate the jet’s advanced capabilities with so many of our international partners,” Wing Commander Kiely said.

“Across the exercise, we aim to improve our collective air combat capabilities in a complex and contested environment.

“Our focus for Pitch Black is on strengthened international integration, which is paramount to further improving our ability to come together as a highly effective and interoperable force.”

Pitch Black is a biennial three week multi-national exercise with 17 nations including Australia participating this year from August 19 to September 8.

Wing Commander Kiely said the local community will have the opportunity to get a taste of F-35A action while No. 3 Squadron is deployed in the Top End.

“RAAF Base Darwin is one of the premier air combat training locations worldwide,” he said.

“Darwin’s base and support agencies are highly adept at facilitating large force employment, and the NT military airspace is among the best in the world.

“We greatly appreciate the ongoing support we receive from NT residents and in particular the Darwin local community.

“We look forward to engaging with the public with an F-35A handling display at Mindil Beach and on the ground during the RAAF Base Darwin Open Day.”





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