11 August 2014
Aircraftsman James McKellow on patrol in the early hours of the morning with his Royal Australian Air Force counterpart at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin as part of Exercise Pitch Black 2014.
Ensuring the safety and security of personnel and aircraft from seven nations is the responsibility of Christchurch man Aircraftsman (AC) James McKellow, who is part of a Force Protection team that sees New Zealand and Australian forces working together in the heat of an Australian Northern Territory winter.
AC McKellow, a former Christ’s College pupil and University of Canterbury graduate, is an airman in the Royal New Zealand Air Force 209 Squadron Force Protection unit. He is in Darwin participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2014, which is the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) largest multi-national combat air training exercise of the year.
The three-week exercise aims to foster multi-national co-operation and has brought military forces from six nations to Australia. The exercise involves day and night flying and provides the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) with an opportunity to practise deployment and integration of ground support personnel into coalition environments.
This is AC McKellow’s first overseas exercise and his first time working with the RAAF. He’s enjoying the opportunity to build relationships and compare training, tactics and procedures with his counterparts in the RAAF.
The range of AC McKellow’s duties and responsibilities is demanding and is conducted over rotating day and night shifts as he contributes to the security of the participating nations’ aircraft.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aircraft and equipment on the base that we are responsible for keeping secure. Being able to work comfortably, as a team, with our Australian colleagues is key in being able to quickly identify and respond to any threats to these assets,” AC McKellow says.
AC McKellow will return to his Ohakea base in late August.
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