Pitch Black: France deploying Air Power to antipodes [fr]
From 27 July to 17 August, the French Air Force will be taking part in the biennial Exercise "Pitch Black" in Australia, with three Rafale B fighter planes from metropolitan France and one Casa from the Armed Forces of New Caledonia (FANC). Organized by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from the Darwin and Tindal bases, this multinational exercise aims to train crews to undertake an entry mission against a State power.
The Exercise contributes to the operational training of our crews and reinforces military cooperation with the 16 participating states. The contribution of American assets in the Pacific (Pacific Air Forces and United States Marine Corps) will also help to reinforce interoperability with this key partner.
The participation of the Rafale B
The aim of this first entry exercise is to plan, execute and debrief complex missions in a multinational framework. Conducted in a realistic non-permissive tactical environment, it will include various different threats.
Week 1 “Famweek”:
Familiarisation with simple missions. Two night-flights will enable the crews to work in this specific environment.
Weeks 2 and 3:
Two COMAO (Combined Air Operations) missions will be carried out daily (day and night).
Prepare, brief, execute and debrief COMAOs.
Develop and validate combat tactics and entry-force air operations in a ultinational context against air and land threats.
“Entry Force” is the capability to establish “first entry” in a country equipped with air-to-air and ground-to-air defence.
Develop expertise during missions in a crowded electromagnetic environment.
Participate in Offensive Combat Air (OCA) missions.
Protection of a High Value Airborne Asset (HVAA), such as an E-3F or transport plane flying at low speed.
Participate in missions in a non-permissive environment, with the use of air-to-ground cannon (planned air strikes).
Validate the Entry Force.
Establish international relations through exchange of experience between the different participating countries.
The participation of the Casa 200
The first week of the exercise is a week of familiarization with simple missions and of reconnaissance of the exercise zone (bare base airfields).
> A night-flight for reconnaissance of the bare base, with placement of 6 markers, will also be conducted.
Week 1 “Famweek”:
Progressive integration with the actors of the air mission (air controller, fighter etc.). Night flights with summary terrain in six beacons will be made during this training phase.
Weeks 2 and 3:
Very low altitude missions with penetration into an enemy zone under the protection of coalition fighter planes will be realized. In addition, small packages and round-based drops are programmed.
The Darwin platform will host 71 fighter planes, giving a total of 140 aircraft shared with the Tindal platform, together with almost 2500 flight personnel. The following aircraft will be provided by the participating countries (9 nations out of 16 participants)”
Australie : F/A-18F, F/A-18A, E/A-18G, C-130J, C17, C27J, KA350, E-7A, PC-9, CCT, KC-30 (MRTT) ;
Canada : CC130HT ;
France : Rafale B, Casa-200 ;
Inde : SU30MKI, C-130J ;
Indonésie : F16 ;
Malaisie : F/A-18D, A400M ;
Singapour : F-16, F-15, KC-135, G550 ;
Thaïlande : Gripen ;
États-Unis : F-16CJ, B52, F/A-18C-D, KC-130J, MV22, UH-1.
Australia is providing an Airbus A-330 MRTT air-toair refuelling tanker to help ferry the French aircraft from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Darwin, where the exercise will be held..