International Controllers at No. 114 MCRU

In the busy airspace over the Northern Territory, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Battle Managers are busily working to target, track and direct friendly and "enemy" aircraft on Exercise Pitch Black.

In 2018, controllers from India, Germany and Canada have deployed to join the RAAF's integrated fighter control teams.

Wing Commander Brett Risstrom, Commanding Officer No 114 Mobile Control & Reporting Unit (114MCRU), said this year’s Exercise has provided new opportunities to develop skills with more international air forces during simulated aerial combat.

“At Exercise Pitch Black 2018 we’ve been able to integrate fighter control teams, including for the first time controllers from India, Germany and Canada as one team,” he said.

The Air Battle Managers sit together among a wall of screens in their shipping container-sized cabins in RAAF Base Darwin. They carefully watch the tracks on the monitors representing aircraft speeding across the area of operations.

The Air Battle Managers direct dozens of friendly aircraft from multiple nations at once. The teams help the aircrews find, track and target multiple incoming enemy aircraft across the Northern Territory during long and intense hours of simulated combat.

Sergeant (SGT) Ryan Mckee from No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit is being put through his paces while working with international militaries during Exercise Pitch Black 2018.

He said the exercise is about coordinating to put "Blue" aircraft in the right place at the right time.

“We’re looking at where the ‘Red’ are and where they’re coming from to ensure we have a safe air picture and also dominate the skies,” SGT Mckee said.

114MCRU provides tactical air defence for the Air Force and gains a lot from the training undertaken on Exercise Pitch Black.

Exercise Pitch Black is the Air Force's premier air warfare exercise with 16 nations participating in the exercise in 2018.

By FLTLT Tom Maclean

For more information about Pitch Black 2018 go to