Australia – Last major exercise for Australia’s F-111s

As the end of the F-111 era draws to a close the long-range strike aircraft are still flexing their muscle as they take part in their final Exercise Pitch Black.

Four F-111s from No. 6 Squadron RAAF Amberley, Qld are taking part in the exercise which commenced on 16 July.

After 37 years, the iconic F-111s are the longest current serving aircraft in the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet.

Wing Commader Micka Gray, Commanding Officer No. 6 Squadron, said the F-111 has been very successful for a very long time.

„The F-111 was an aircraft ahead of its time. It was one of the first twin-engine swing-wing aircraft and has enormous flexibility for range and endurance“.

It is affectionately known as the ‚Pig‘ for its ability to hunt at night with its nose in the weeds, thanks to its terrain-following radar.

„No. 6 Squadron has a long and proud history,“ Wing Commander Gray said. „I am sure the end of 2010 will be an emotional time for many people when we say goodbye to the Pig. But for now we have F-111s to prepare, fly and fight“.

The F-111 arrived at Amberley in 1973 and No. 6 Squadron has now flown the formidable strike jet for nearly four decades.

„The F-111 is just a magnificent aircraft. I first flew it 22 years ago as a young fella and I’ve flown a lot of hours in it. It touches you just to be part of the F-111 community whether you are flying it, maintaining it or supporting it“.

The F-111 can strike day or night in any weather. Its Pave Tack targeting system can locate targets at night and in bad weather and provides laser designation for laser-guided weapons. The radar warning system detects incoming radar emissions and alerts the crew to potential surface or air attacks.

The F-111 remains a vital component of Australia’s air combat capability in concert with the F/A-18 Classic and Super Hornets.

Exercise Pitch Black is a three week multi-national air combat exercise, conducted in the Northern Territory.

PB10 is the largest RAAF Field Training Exercise for 2010 and involves a combination of day and night flying from RAAF bases at Darwin and Tindal.

The exercise involves participants from the Australian Army and elements of the Singapore, New Zealand and Thailand air forces participating in the tasking, planning and execution of Offensive Counter Air and Offensive Air Support operations in a coalition environment.

The F-111s will return to Darwin for Exercises Kakadu and Singaroo later next month. The venerable aircraft will be duly farewelled from service at the end of the year.

Media Note:
New F-111 vision from Exercise Pitch Black and interviews with the Commanding Officer and a maintenance technician from No.6 Squadron will be fed to the Parliament House Press Gallery.

Media Contact:
Exercise Pitch Black Public Information Cell: 1800 301 885

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia