Royal Air Force personnel participating in Exercise Pitch Black are not limited to those aviators who have deployed to Australia with Typhoon and Voyager.
Others embedded within the Royal Australian Air Force are also taking part with the E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.
Some 320kms to the South of Darwin lies Royal Australian Air Force Tindal, home to a squadron of F-35A Lightning stealth fighters. Situated in an area where the tropics meet the outback, temperatures can reach 45C with high humidity. For the exercise a single E-7A operated by 2 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force deployed to Tindal from its base at Williamtown, New South Wales.
Ahead of the delivery of the first RAF Wedgetail seedcorn Programme has been established with the Royal Australian Air Force which sees RAF maintainers, technicians, and aircrew embedding within 2 Squadron. The symbiotic relationship assists the Royal Australian Air Force with the delivery of E-7 capability and will provide a core of experienced personnel to operate UK Wedgetail at RAF Lossiemouth.
The E-7A, which will be known as the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning Mk1 in RAF service, provides long-range air surveillance and control of an area of operations. It uses a Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) and on-board passive systems to collect information to provide the crew with a real-time picture of aircraft and ships present across a broad area of responsibility. The crew use this information to provide direction and guidance to aircraft and commanders on the ground.
Flight Lieutenant Gale is the Asset Manager for the mission computing system and a Duty Engineer who was previously an engineer on Chinook.
Seedcorn offers a breadth of opportunities both for the workforce on the Squadron to learn frontline maintenance and technician practices, for the aircrew to practise airborne skills, but also for Engineering Officers such as myself to provide acquisition and sustainment advice and guidance to the Delivery Team back in the UK.
Flight Lieutenant Gale
My role entails being part of the 10 operator mission crew. I am supervising the controllers and the surveillance team, ensuring we collect all the data from the radar and the communications, putting them together and passing out the tactical picture toother aircraft and stations.
On this exercise we’re here as the sole tactical command and control unit, operating with ground units and with up to 60 aircraft every day including and multiple air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
Senior Surveillance and Control Officer
Exercise Pitch Black is a major exercise involving 17 nations from across the Indo-Pacific region and from Europe. It features a range of realistic and simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment and is an opportunity to test and improve force integration, utilising one of the largest training airspace areas in the world.