Riding Into The Danger Zone

Three of the Hornets taking part in Ex Pitch Black flew over the airbase to mark their departure

BUTTERWORTH: Riding into the danger zone. Five RMAF F/A-18D Hornets and a single A400M flew off from the Butterworth airbase here, on their way to Darwin for Exercise Pitch Black 2018. They will fly to Australia via Kuching and Bali, Indonesia.

The 118 strong RMAF contingent is headed by Col. Koey “Mickey” Tan Chai, the commannding officer of 18th Squadron.

The Hornets and A400M getting ready to fly after the send off ceremony.

RMAF Air Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Mutalib Ab Wahab, said this was the second time, RMAF participated in the biennial exercise organised by Royal Australian Air Force. In 2008 the Hornets from the 18th Sqdn was accompanied by a KC-130H Hercules tanker.
Col Koey and his WSO Maj. Hazman Harun taking off from Butterworth airbase on their way to Darwin.

“After 2008, we did not take part in the exercises due to financial constraints. This year we are taking part as the funding has been allocated,” he said at the sending off ceremony of the contingent here today.
A400M M54-04 and the five Hornets bound for Darwin lined up for the sending off ceremony.

Mutalib says the exercise will give RMAF air and ground crews an opportunity to train an international large force employment exercise at one of the biggest airspace training areas in the world.
Some of the officers and men taking part in Exercise Pitch Black at the sending off ceremony.

Some 4000 airmen and 140 aircraft from various countries including Australia, Canada, France , Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, India, and the United States are taking part in the exercise which starts froom 27 July to 17 August 2018.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Q: Why send the Hornets and not the Su 30 MKM, or a mix of both?

    Q2: Why stop at Kuching and Bali when the A400 can refuel the Hornets on the way to Darwin?

    Most of the MKMs are still undergoing their 10 year service. Hornets are self deployable and spares are readily available in Australia.

    Probably they did not want to test their luck.

  2. That’s like 85 percent of the Hornet fleet. I hope not more than 50 percent of the Flankers fleet are under going the mandatory service at any one time. That’s really stretching it thin.

  3. Nearly one month, wow. Will they be having daily mock battles or something?


  4. Thanks for the info. Very grueling training then, but such experience is worth more than gold, too bad we cannot send more flyers there.

    What the format will be? Country vs country round robin or multination Blue Team vs multination Red Team and rotating the national composition on daily basis?

    Have to wait until the exercise to see the format but it will be a team format

  5. Big shame the Sukhoi can’t go.

    Hope the boys ‘ sorok’ as many of those free F/A 18 spare parts in that big belly of the A400M :-).

    Not that many I am afraid as most of the contingent are flying on the A400M to and fro Australia. Not a problem really as RAAF regularly flies to Butterworth with their C-17s

  6. That’s probably why they have to have regular stops, I can’t imagine sitting in a military transport would be comfortable for long distances.

    No lah, apart from carrying the other contingents members, their luggage and other logistical equipment, the A400M also served as the SAR bird. Our fighters dont regularly fly long distances so it would be unwise just to do it for this sortie. I have flown to Pakistan on a Hercules. On a direct flight it will take around 10 hours, on a Hercules with one stop it was almost one day. It was not that uncomfortable apart from the return flight where the plane was almost filled up with gifts for the visiting dignitary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.