Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Royal Australian Air Force Super Hornet debut at Exercise Pitch Black

The Super Hornet multi-role fighters of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) No. 1 Squadron are making their Exercise Pitch Black debut appearance.

Nine Super Hornets are operating alongside other RAAF aircraft and international participants for the exercise.

Commanding Officer No. 1 Squadron, Wing Commander Murray Jones, said the Super Hornet had brought Air Force a tremendous increase in capability at Exercise Pitch Black.

“For the first time, No. 1 Squadron has come to Exercise Pitch Black with a true multi-role capability,” WGCDR Jones said.

“Unlike the F-111 previously operated by No. 1 Squadron, the Super Hornet can fly missions which combine air-to-air against enemy fighters and air-to-surface strike against ground targets.”

The Super Hornet is equipped with advanced electronics systems which include the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. This provides a continuous picture of the battlespace, whereas older mechanically-steered radars would ‘sweep’ a radar beam over the same area.

“Missions at Pitch Black can involve 60 to 80 aircraft, so it’s critical we have an uninterrupted view of what is happening in the battle space,” WGCDR Jones said.

“The coverage of the AESA radar, combined with an excellent data-link system, means that the Pilot and Weapons System Officer can have constant situational awareness of what is happening all around them, and can conduct near simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks when required.”

The power of the Super Hornet is further extended when operating alongside other aircraft like the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, which can provide a continuous radar feed to other aircraft.

“With the information shared from the Wedgetail, it is almost as if they are an extension of our airplane,” WGCDR Jones said.

Exercise Pitch Black 12 will be completed by August 17. Air Force expects to declare Full Operational Capability for the Super Hornet in December.

Asian Defence News

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