Building an austere Air Base

An austere air base has been constructed over two days starting on the 2nd of August at Batchelor in the Northern Territory, during Exercise Pitch Black 2018. 

Flight Lieutenant Michael Fox, Operations Officer No. 382 Contingency Response Squadron said the location and exercise were ideal to train and showcase Air Force’s capability to quickly set up an austere air base in Australia’s remote north.

“Batchelor has proved challenging, given the heat of the location and lack of proximity from infrastructure,” FLTLT Fox said.

“Exercise Pitch Black 18 affords us the opportunity to verify our actions to deploy at short notice to an austere airfield, activate it and receive aircraft.”

FLTLT Fox, spoke about the combined joint effort involved setting up the base that is the hub for many complex missions and serials throughout the exercise.

“The insertion into Batchelor Airfield was done by both road and air. Army assisted greatly by transporting cargo,” FLTLT Fox said.

“We also had Security Forces and a Contingency Response Group from the United States Air Force and Army’s 9th Force Support Battalion working at Batchelor Airfield.”

Once construction was complete these groups, along with No. 2 Security Forces Squadron, continued to support operations on the austere air base during the exercise.

In the early stages of the build, FLTLT Fox shed light on what would be considered a great exercise for No. 382 Contingency Response Squadron at the wrap up of Pitch Black.

“Our objective is being able to receive C-27J Spartan airframes and turn them around supporting the wider operation,” FLTLT Fox said.

“Our services include an air load team, refuelling, a 24 hour a day Operations Cell and an integrated US Air Force contingent including air traffic controllers.”

The ability to train in this particular environment and test themselves is also of great practical benefit for No. 382 Contingency Response Squadron as it is about to go on very short notice to move.

By LEUT Harley Slatter

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