Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR September 2016 Contents 72 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter SEPT 2016
Despite being a reser ve pilot, SLTC Ong flies
every other week in the RSAF. Yet he still thinks
there is something new for him and the RSAF to
learn every time he returns for Pitch Black.
He gave the example of tactics and procedures
changing after the G550 AEW&C replaced the
E-2C Hawkeye - and similarly for the RAAF, where
their operating styles have changed since the
introduction of the Wedgetail and Super Hornets
with new capabilities.
Even for regular pilots like SLTC Lim, the
complexity of and advances in weaponry has
changed significantly. He said it used to be mainly
AIM-9 shots during his debut as an A-4SU pilot
in 1990, evolving into AIM-7 and AMRAAM shots
with electronic warfare, SAM units and data-link
Similarly with the Link-16, the Thais have joined
the multitude of platforms in Pitch Black that are
using the data link to coordinate their fights.
“For example, the RAAF C-130s used to have
no radar - hence they are not able to know who
is going to ‘jump on them‘. With the C-130J-30
with Link-16, it is giving them a higher situational
awareness and changed the way the fighters
protect them, so it becomes easier to do our job.”
SLTC Ong explained.
Another novelty is that RSAF F-16C/Ds have
tanked with RAAF KC-30A for the first time. The
RSAF will be receiving their near-identical A330
MRTTs within the next two years.
“We can look at the way it is being done and
try to learn experiences from the new tanking
methods,” he said.
Some new capabilities introduced to Pitch
Black by the RAAF are the Heron UAV, based at
RAAF Amberley. Part of RAAF’s build-up of ISR
capabilities, the Heron is an interim platform before
transiting to the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton.
LESSONS FROM OKRA
The Royal Australian Air Force has very much to
offer to make Exercise Pitch Black as realistic
and relevant as possible - especially with their
experience from Operation Okra in the Middle East
since August 2014. Most combat squadrons in
Pitch Black 16 (1 SQN, 77 SQN and 2 SQN for
example) have experience in the region, conducting
strike missions against Daesh targets using ISR
from Heron UAVs.
Exercise Director Group Captain Glenn Braz
thinks that will add more value and realism to both
RAAF and international participants in Pitch Black
“The operations we conduct in the Middle East
are in a complex and large coalition environment.
For example, the Wedgetail is operating in the
Middle East and the crew get a lot of experience
managing complex air space. The strike teams
can see how we can run Dynamic Targeting and
Deliberate Targeting and we can set some of
the exercise objectives here to exercise our own
processes and make sure we can applies those
with our own ISR etc.”
The USAF 14th Fighter Squadron were also
over Iraq and Syria supporting Operation Inherent
Resolve and they will have their part to share on
striking targets in a coalition set-up.
Group Captain Braz, SLTC Lim and LTC Ong
all agree that the following Pitch Blacks will be
exciting ones. They think that the scale will not
expand much further but rather the complexity and
the mission scenarios will increase in difficulty.
“The number of aircraft might not be the deciding
factor but rather the type of mission scenario and
complexity we put ourselves in. Over 100 aircraft
practice in exercises like Cope Tiger and Red
Flag, so the number of aircraft for Large Force
Employment exercise is about there, its just the
kind of scenario and the systems and capability you
bring. “ s aid SLTC Lim.
Group Captain Bra z thinks the new RAAF
EA-18G Growler should be able to participate in
2018 and F-35As in subsequent Pitch Blacks.
Then again, he thinks the introduction of a next
generation fighter would require another advanced
air force or platform to train against, in this case the
USAF F-22 or F-35A.
He also revealed to the author that there is
potential to include helicopters in the next Pitch
Black as part of the growing focus on air-land
integration and increase the lower ’vul’ to have
rotary wing elements, but it will be subject to case-
Battle-hardened 14th Fighter Squadron seen here with victory
marks scored over Iraq and Syria. CreditL C. Chuanren
25/08/2016 6:32 PM
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