Around the RAAF Open Day: Sukhois, MWDs, and yet more aircraft

If you want to see what this exercise (and these planes) is like up in the air, have a look at this ABC video where the journo is airborne in a RAAF F/A-18. Way cool to a plane junkie! Oh, BTW, that noise is quiet compared to yesterday afternoon at our place.

But returning to my own photos:

The Russian-made Sukhoi SU-30 jet flown by the Indonesian Air Force has generated a lot of interest since it arrived in Darwin a couple of weeks ago. As you can see there was a photo shoot going on last Saturday at the Open Day.

Sukhoi SU-30 with an older model SU-27 Sukhoi behind it.

A rear view of the Sukhoi SU-30

My other post gave an example of what happens when you mess with a Military Working Dog (MWD) on duty. One of the things I noticed was that two of the handlers were women and later while looking around the aircraft we saw LACW Bowden with MWD Rocco on duty patrolling the RAAF’s F/A18-F Super Hornets. She kindly gave me permission to take their photo for this blog and we had a chat about being a MWD handler. Rocco is a Belgian Malinois. I think it was Rocco in the other series of photos and also LACW Bowden with the puppy-in-training. I’ve never seen these dogs in action before and I was so impressed (can’t you tell?).

LACW Bowden and MWD Rocco on duty.

It must be devastating if something happens to either the MWD or its handler given the closeness of their bond. You can listen to another handler talking about it here during Pitch Black 08.

The RAAF Hercules was generating a lot of interest from the crowd. Master Nearly-6 was thrilled to be able to have a look inside.

Interior view of the Hercules.

Republic of Singapore Air Force Gulfstream G-550 early warning aircraft with heavy-duty electronics and radar

Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker with the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion behind it. The KC-135 is their mid-air refuelling tanker.

Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon.

RSAF F-15 Eagle.

Young (and not so young) boys were having fun checking out the APCs and the Army’s weaponry.


Military Working Dogs (MWDs) and attack training

Earlier in the week I talked about the RAAF Open Day, and highlighted the aircraft and the pilots. We also saw a great demonstration of the Military Working Dogs (MWD) on attack. Their role is to defend the security of the RAAF bases but they also go on some overseas postings with their handlers.

The MWD nearest the orange fence (mid-picture), is retiring after 12+ years service. Good and faithful work!

Kitting up for the attack. The extent of protection shows that these dogs mean business.

Kicking up dust and bringing him down.

Apart from being impressive I can tell you those dogs are very scary. You absolutely would not want to be the subject of their aggressive attention. Basic fact: the dog’s back teeth 5 times as much pressure as is required to break human bones. Despite being kitted out with safety gear, the “offender” must have had a few bruises on Sunday.  You also can’t outrun them either!

On the run.

The dogs were very responsive to the handler’s commands and my observant husband noticed they always circled back round the handler before coming to rest/attention beside the handler (makes sense really).  But as they were called off the cowed offender they did rather look like they’d have loved another go at him. Cries of “get him off, get him off did not deter the dog in the slightest. They are also trained to cope with the sounds of gunfire and to plunge through fire.

Amidst the gunfire.

Different breeds have different attributes but they all seemed keen to bring the offender down. I kept thinking of my friend’s German Shepherd, Bear, who is incredibly intelligent. He’d have loved being a working dog if he’d been trained as a puppy.

This little puppy is being trained..only a few months old from memory. Looks quite sweet doesn’t she?

But she’s got the drill…

And she’s not letting go! She may look like she way playing, but she surely wasn’t.

The awesome Tiger helicopter

Among the fighter jets at the Operation Pitch Black Open Day on Saturday was an Australian Army ARH Tiger helicopter. These are “attack helicopters used in armed reconnaissance missions”[i].  Tiger Pilot, Captain Overton, was talking informally with the public about its sophisticated weaponry and had all those listening enthralled with his comments and information.  I was intrigued that the cannon responds to the pilot’s head movements thanks to a link with the helmet he wears: look right and the weapon moves right etc.

Tiger pilot, Capt Overton, talking to the public about the attributes of his helicopter.

Apparently the Tigers are the most lethal helicopters around and can destroy almost any tank in the world: if you’re going to go into battle you want one of these on your side, you surely don’t want them up against you. The 30mm cannon, rocket launchers, and laser-guided hellfire missiles with an 8km range make for a formidable military combination.

I was equally impressed by the calm confidence of all the Defence personnel we talked to. They are so capable at what they do without any brashness and bravado, just extreme competence. I wonder how many enlistments the Defence forces get after an open day like this one, a few I reckon, especially in a city like Darwin.

The awesome Tiger Helicopter.

Formidable weaponry.

If you’re into aircraft do go and look at the link below. Click on the yellow circles to see the details and also turn the image to get a side view. You can also see more about it in the video. All very cool! It also enlightened me on the difference between a battle captain and the pilot (click on the down arrow beside the people images).

Top Day in the Top End and a genuine Aussie “Top Gun”

What a top weekend we’ve been having here in the Top End and yesterday ‘s RAAF Open Day was a highlight! I forgot the temporary aggravation of military jets zooming overhead and remembered just how much I love them. There were 21 aircraft on display from the various countries participating in Pitch Black 12, and it’s probably unusual to see this variety in one place. Mr Cassmob and I were in heaven and it was such a thrill to be able to see all these amazing aircraft up close and personal.

I must have been hyped up because I was cheeky enough to bail up a passing RAAF Pilot and ask him for a photo opportunity. He graciously agreed to be photographed for my blog in front of this RAAF F/A18-F Super Hornet fighter jet.

Squadron Leader Matthew Harper in front A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet on the apron at Darwin’s RAAF base.

Little did I know until I did some research this morning that I had photographed one of the RAAF’s crème de la crème, a genuine Aussie version of a “Top Gun“.

Squadron Leader Matt Harper is one of the few foreign pilots who has trained on the USA Air Force’s super stealth aircraft, F-22 Raptor. Do click on the 1st link to read his story…just as well I didn’t know all this or I’d have probably gushed embarrassingly.

Sqn Ldr Harper also generously came and talked to our grandchildren including Master 3 who had been so terrified by the aircraft noise last week. Thank you so much Sqn Ldr Harper for your time and courtesy. What a great job of PR the RAAF did yesterday!

There’ll be several more posts about yesterday’s Open Day coming up this week.  If you love aircraft, do drop by for a look. Images from Week 1 of Pitch Black 12 are here.

If I happen to make any mistakes in these posts please do jump in and make corrections – I’m not an expert even though I enjoy seeing the aircraft.