Last major exercise for C-130H Hercules
The C-130H Hercules has participated in its final major tactical exercise before retiring, during Exercise Pitch Black 2012.
From December, the C-130H will be retired after 34 years in service and the newer generation C-130J will take over tactical airlift roles.
Both Hercules types, operated by 37 Squadron, were at RAAF Base Darwin for the exercise.
Detachment commander for the Hercules at Pitch Black, Squadron Leader Andrew Johnson, said he was proud have worked on one of the C-130H’s final exercises.
“The C-130H has a long history of attending exercises like Pitch Black, both overseas and within Australia, as well as deploying on operations and humanitarian relief,” Squadron Leader Johnson said.
“Having been associated with the C-130H for so long I’m sad to see them going, but relishing the opportunity to be in Darwin and flying on this exercise.”
During the exercise, C-130H and C-130J crews attempted to evade enemy fighters and ground threats while they delivered vehicles and personnel from 4 Squadron combat control teams on the outback runway at Delamere Range Facility.
Squadron Leader Johnson said the exercise was an opportunity to transfer knowledge and experience between the crews.
“Pitch Black airspace is a high-threat environment, something which the C-130H crews are well-versed at flying in, and the C-130J crews are gradually being exposed to,” he said.
“This was also an opportunity for our C-130H aircrew to capitalise on their experience with large formations of aircraft in a coalition environment, before they move on to other aircraft types.”
Powered by four turboprop engines and with an empty weight of around 35 tonnes, the Hercules excels at flying from short, semi-prepared runways and can carry 90 passengers or up to 20 tonnes of cargo.
No. 4 Squadron Combat Control Team (4SQN CCT) member prepares to load his quad bikes onto a C-130H Hercules aircraft. Mid Caption: One of the Royal Australian Air Force's transport workhorses, the C-130H Hercules, took part in its final major tactical exercises as part of Exercise Pitch Black 2012. After a career spanning three decades with Air Force, the No. 37 Squadron C-130H evaded enemy fighters and ground threats while picking up No. 4 Squadron Combat Control Team personnel and their quad bikes from Nackaroo Airstrip during a mission at Exercise Pitch Black 2012. Exercise Pitch Black 2012 aims to enhance the interoperability between participating nations as they combine forces in the premier air combat exercise in the region.
Exercise Pitch Black 12 (PB12) is the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) largest and most complex air exercise. It will be held in the Northern Territory from 27 July to 17 August 2012.
International participants will include the United States Marine Corps, the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force, and Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Indonesian Air Force (participating from July 27 to August 13)
Source: airforce.gov.au News - 22 August 2012
Photo: Flight Engineer, Warrant Officer Mark Brundell, completes pre-flight checks on a C-130H Hercules aircraft during Exercise Pitch Black 2012. (Photo by airforce.gov.au)