Visit to Exercise PITCH BLACK – RAAF Darwin 4-6 August 2014
The Tribunal visited RAAF Darwin from 4 – 6 August 2015 to observe elements of Exercise PITCH BLACK 14.
The visit to the Exercise enabled the Tribunal to be briefed on the various elements of Air Force operating together; spend time in an environment where they were able to obtain the views of personnel employed within the Air Force aviation structure; inspect the Combat Controller category (related to Matter 11 of 2014); and be updated on the development of the Officer Aviation Remuneration Structure (OARS).
The party were welcomed to RAAF Darwin by the Commanding Officer (CO) of 13 Squadron (SQN); the City of Darwin Squadron. The CO provided an overview of the base and its history as well as outlining the major operations and exercises conducted in the region. The Tribunal visited the historic headquarters building of 13SQN.
The Commander (Task Unit) for Exercise PITCH BLACK gave the Tribunal an Exercise overview. In particular the Commander stressed the training opportunities that come from large multinational Force Exercises. The Tribunal noted that these were critical to the development of pilots and members of the Aviation structure.
The Tribunal visited the temporary location of 1SQN where they observed the maintenance of the F/A18F Super Hornet and met with the maintenance crew. They also visited the mission planning area and met air crew in one of the deployable mission briefing rooms.
The Tribunal met with members of 11SQN and were briefed on the role of the detachment as part of Operation Resolute – the ADF's contribution to the whole-of-government effort to protect Australia's borders and offshore maritime interests.
Members of the Tribunal and party are briefed on capabilities onboard an AP-3C Orion by personnel from 11SQN.
The Tribunal inspected the Air Traffic Control Service provided to RAAF Darwin and Darwin International Airport. They were briefed on the roles of Joint Battlefield Airspace Controllers (JBAC). From the tower the Tribunal observed exercise air movements including aircraft of International Forces.
Members of the Tribunal and party are briefed on the role of Joint Battlefield Airspace Controllers (JBAC) and observe Exercise PITCH BLACK take-offs from the control tower at RAAF Base Darwin.
The Tribunal met with members of 4SQN in relation to Matter 4 of 2014, Air Force Combat Controllers, and were briefed on the capability and workforce management challenges of the Squadron.
On the final day the Tribunal met with deployed members of 3SQN and 75SQN based out of RAAF Williamtown and Tindal respectively where they operate the F/A18A/B Classic Hornet. The Tribunal were included in an Exercise mission briefing and observed pre-flight preparations. The party then met with 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit where they observed the real-time execution of the mission briefing that had occurred earlier in 3 and 75SQNs.
Throughout the visit the Tribunal were provided with a review of the Air Force 'Raise, Train, Sustain' human resource strategy and the concepts that will continue to underpin the development of the OARS. They were briefed on the similarities and differences of the Officer Aviation 'family' having met with many personnel in related roles during the visit.