Mates dogfight for the first time

IAF’s highly manoeuvrable multi-role Sukhoi Su-30

Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF) fast-jets flew together for the first time ever over Australian soil at Exercise Pitch Black 18 this week.

In a basic fighter manoeuvre mission planned and executed as a dual-nation effort, the crews put their aircraft to the test in a series of simulated ‘dogfights’.

No. 77 Squadron (77SQN) pilot Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Vincent had the honour of being among the first in the RAAF to take on the IAF’s highly manoeuvrable multi-role Sukhoi Su-30.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever flown against a Sukhoi and I’ve got to say it’s a pretty impressive aircraft.

“For me it was definitely an incredibly valuable learning experience and it’s certainly a great memory I’ll take away from the exercise,” FLTLT Vincent said.

Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Ajit Krishnan, thoroughly researched the RAAF F/A-18s in the lead up the exercise and said that the book can prepare you for the real thing.

“I saw a lot of pictures of the F/A-18A before coming to Australia, but to see it here in person both in the air and on the ground, it is a beautiful thing,” he said.

“It was a wonderful experience to fly in formation with the RAAF jets over the Australian coastline and I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity."

FLTLT Vincent said although it is their first time exercising together, the similarities between the two countries far outweigh the differences.  

“We discovered through the planning phase that we both share very similar procedures and processes for planning and executing our missions.

“Of course there’s always a language or terminology barrier when working with new countries.”

“But working together to overcome those barriers and build a great base of understanding is what exercises like Pitch Black are all about,”  FLTLT Vincent said.

The IAF have visited Exercise Pitch Black as part of the International Observer Group since 1998 but this year is the first time they have bought aircraft over to participate.

Exercise Pitch Black is conducted in the Northern Territory from the 27 July to the 17 August and involves personnel from 16 different nations.

The exercise aims to strengthen regional partnerships, improve interoperability between nations and promote regional stability.

By Monique Lonsdale

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