This year's exercise brought for the first time the Indonesia Air Force with Su-27, Su-30 Flankers and C-130 Hercules. Normally these aircraft aren't seen in Australia let alone a tactical exercise like PB 2012.
On August 11 the RAAF held special static display Open Day for residents of Darwin to come see up close some of the aircraft used on the 3 week exercise. The heat and humidity of Darwin wasn't too bad this year with bright sunny weather and wind on the day. From 9am to 4pm the Bombing ramp was a sea of people mixing with olive flight suits and grey metal machines.
A variety of aircraft such as F/A-18 Hornets A and F models, SU-27/30 Flankers, King Airs 350, F-16 Viper ADF, F-16D Viper , F-15E Strike Eagle, AP-3C Orion, C-130H Hercules, KC-135R Stratotanker along with some vintage aircraft - Tigermoth, Harvard and Auster were all on show.
My trip to Darwin in itself was a testing 1.5days of flight time and walking on minimal sleep with flying to get there and back at 1am-5am and 930pm-1am on both days really putting my body clock of out wack but i survived.
I made a few new friends at Darwin mainly Adam Burgan, a aircraft photographer who kindly allowed me to use his flying shots of the exercise, was joined by his family and fellow mates, all into aviation and who follow the airport operations. It is quite useful having contacts living only 2-3mins away from the airport able to keep me update on issues.
The RAAF gained much useful PR and the ability to interact with the locals from staging this Open Day and it is hoped that a similar Open Day will happen in 2yrs time again but as a regular event if the large crowd numbers on the day were a indicator of the popularity of the event.
PART 1 will cover the RAAF Darwin base and RAAF F/A-18 Hornets which operated in PB12.
On the open day a small section of RAAF Darwin base HAS (Hardened Air Shelters could been seen. They are easily seen from road and air by the public, similar to the RAAF Townsville HAS. During WW2 the airport was the main RAAF base for the Top End and many revetments with no cover were built all across this land... to protect aircraft and crews from the many Japanese bomber air raids.
Next update Part 2 will cover the RSAF F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16D Viper and RTAF F-16 Vipers.