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August 5, 2010
FLTLT Skye Smith
AS THE end of the F-111 era draws
to a close, the long-range strike air-
craft are still flexing their muscles.
Four F-111s from 6SQN are taking
part in the three-week exercise.
CO 6SQN WGCDR Micka Gray
said Pitch Black was always a signifi-
cant event, particularly for the F-111s.
"It is great the F-111s could be a
part of it one last time," he said.
"Pitch Black is invaluable for
everyone involved in the exercise. It
is great for aircrew, maintenance and
support staff alike.
"The multi-lateral cooperation and
interoperability with coalition partners
is greatly enhanced through Pitch
"The F-111 brings unique capabili-
ties to the exercise and is incredibly
smooth to maneouvre in the air.
"We can go supersonic at low
level flying 100 feet above ground
level doing four footy fields a second,
which is what it is designed for. We
can run in and hit targets at high speed
and get back to safety as fast as the
aircraft will take us."
The F-111 can strike day or night
in any weather. Its Pave Tack target-
ing system can locate targets at night
and in bad weather and provides laser
designation for laser-guided weapons.
The radar warning system detects
incoming radar emissions and alerts
the crew to potential surface or air
After 37 years, the iconic F-111s
are the longest-current-serving fast-jet
in the Air Force fleet.
"The F-111 has been very success-
ful for a very long time. 6SQN has a
very proud history of operating the
jets," WGCDR Gray said.
"The F-111 was an aircraft ahead
of its time. It was one of the first twin-
engine swing-wing aircraft and has
enormous flexibility for range and
"It is just a magnificent aircraft
and I have immense pride in it.
"It touches you just to be part of
the F-111 community whether you are
flying it, maintaining it or supporting
it. It's certainly in my blood."
The F-111 arrived at Amberley in
1973 and 6SQN has now flown the
formidable strike jet for nearly four
The F-111 started off life as a
strike bomber, but its roles have
expanded to include direct support to
Army and maritime strike.
"6SQN is proud to be the last
squadron to be operating the F-111s in
Australia and in the world," WGCDR
' It touches you just to be
part of the F-111 com-
munity whether you are
flying it, maintaining it or
supporting it. It's certainly
in my blood.
-- WGCDR Micka Gray
PROUD OF F-111s: Above, from
left, FLTLTs Daniel Mills, Andrew
Kloeden and Jonathon Harrington,
and WGCDR Micka Gray return
from their aircraft at RAAF Base
Photo: LAC Glynn Jones
THE END IS NEAR: 6SQN
F-111 aircraft taxi at RAAF
Base Darwin before taking off
during Exercise Pitch Black
2010. Photo: LAC Glynn Jones
Gray said. "I am sure the end of 2010
will be an emotional time for many
people when we say goodbye to the
Pig. But for now we have F-111s to
prepare, fly and fight."
The F-111 remains a vital compo-
nent of Australia's air combat capabil-
ity in concert with the F/A-18 Classic
and Super Hornets.
The F-111s will return to Darwin
for Exercises Kakadu and Singaroo
later this month. The revered aircraft
will be duly farewelled from service
at the end of the year.
AND TWO MORE: A pair of F-111s taxi at RAAF Base Darwin before
another exercise mission.
Photo: SGT Murray Staff
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