31 August, 2022
The exercise is a large-scale collective air training activity that aims to strengthen regional partnerships, improve interoperability between nations and promote regional stability.
This year’s nearly month-long exercise finishing on September 8, includes more than 100 aircraft, 2500 people and 17 nations in total.
The Military Working Dogs (MWD) are used for security patrols and asset protection, both employed domestically and overseas. Since being in Darwin they have had to adapt to the temperature here, coming from Aotearoa New Zealand’s winter.
Leading Aircraftwoman (LACW) Brooke Hitchinson is one of the Royal Australian Air Force MWD handlers working alongside our RNZAF team.
“My favourite thing about my job is coming to work with and train my military dog Karma and improving day in and day out."
“My favourite thing about working with international dogs is learning the different variety of training and different methods and just learning everything that we can from them.”
Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Byron Buys is one of the RNZAF's MWD handlers participating in the Australian exercise with his dog Kaiser.
“The hot weather has been a massive adjustment for Kaiser, we try and keep him in the shade as much as possible, especially during the middle of the day when it’s the hottest. We’ve brought cooling blankets over with us, we make sure he’s got plenty of water, and he’s starting to get used to the heat.
“Kaiser is happiest when he’s got one of his toys out so if he’s biting a tug toy and we’re out playing in the yard he’s having a good time. He loves his job, he wakes up every day rearing to go and get into it,” LAC Buys said.
“The unique thing for us getting over here for Pitch Black is the fact that there are so many nations here and we’re able to work around so many different aircraft and get our dogs exposed to some aircraft that they may not be able to be exposed to back home.
“It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and work with our Australian counterparts. We get to learn how they do things over here and find out how they do their job compared to how we do ours and it’s quite similar so it makes it easy to work together.”
Photos credit: Australian Defence Force